Writing a press release for your business or client may seem difficult. To write a press release that reporters will take seriously, there are a number of things you need to get right.
In this guide, I’ll show you the step by step process to develop a killer press release, which will make it easy for you to get featured in reputable publications.
What Is A Press Release?
A press release is a piece of writing announcing a newsworthy event. It usually comes from a company or person, to be distributed to media outlets in the hope of securing a spot in their publications.
As long as the information is newsworthy, it can span a range of topics from product launches to new hires. The more reporters pick the story for publication, the better exposure it gets.
Press Release Best Practices
Apart from being something that actually deserves media attention, your press release should be brief, to the point and written in a plain, digestible language.
Good press releases form a cohesive story. So your goal should be to shape the information you’re covering into an engaging narrative, complete with the who, when, what, how, where and why.
Let’s take a deeper look at the best ways to make your press release as better as possible and ensure that it gets noticed by a maximum number of journalists.
Pick A Newsworthy Angle
I cannot emphasize this enough. Most press releases fail not because of their format or writing style, but because there’s nothing special about what they’re saying.
For your news to generate media coverage, it must actually be newsworthy. No reporter is going to show interest when you redesign your website, launch a generic product or hire an intern.
Here are some angles that work well in press releases:
- Original research or statistical data (the most effective)
- “First of its kind” concepts
- Partnerships with known brands (especially if it’s for charity)
- Major milestones in fundraising, downloads, sales etc.
- An unexpected gimmick (if you can pull it off)
Denny’s is a great example of using an unexpected gimmick to catch attention. A couple of years ago, the company "mistakenly" sent a working draft of a press release, complete with tracking changes, to various media outlets.
Since the distribution of this press release, at least 6 publications reached out to the restaurant to confirm if the news was actually real or they were out of their mind.
So the press release got the attention it wanted and started conversations which led to more exposure for the brand.
Mention Time Expectation
When writing a press release for media outlets, include when you expect the journalists to publish the news. This is hinted at in the upper left hand corner.
Two common options are:
- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Use this when you want your story to go live right away.
- HOLD FOR RELEASE UNTIL [Date] - Use this format when you don’t want the story to go live until a certain date.
Write A Catchy Title & Subtitle
Your headline is arguably the most important component of a press release. As with any other piece of content, your title determines whether a reporter would want to take a look at the rest of your press release.
It should be written like the headline of an actual news story. Try not to use more than a 100 characters.
The next important component is the subtitle or subheading, which appears below the main headline. It adds to the main title, while teasing the reader further about the contents of the body of your press release.
Here’s an example of title and subtitle:
ABC Cafe Releases Cold Brew Series of Instant Coffee
Having sold more than 50 million jars of its signature brew, the convenient, ready-to-drink line is now available at Target stores all over the country.
The subtitle is usually 170-characters or less, and also gives you an opportunity to embed some keywords to make your press research easy to find via search. So make sure to use your words wisely.
Either in your headline or sub-headline, make sure to include the name of the company or person associated with the press release.
Begin With Location & Date
The introduction paragraph of a press release starts with a region related to the release, followed by the publication date.
The location is usually the city or state in which a business or person in question is located. And the date corresponds to when you’re planning for the publication of this release.
So keep in mind that it’s not supposed to be the date when you first became aware of the event.
Essential Information In Opening Paragraph
Don’t make readers hunt for important information in our press release. In the introduction paragraph, immediately tell reporters what’s the newsworthy event and why they should care about your announcement.
Here’s an example:
SEATTLE, Sept. 6, 2017 -- ABC Cafe, creators of high-energy nutrition foods, announced today the biggest product line in the company’s history.
The XYZ Coffee Brew is a new pre-made version of their signature coffee. Made with selective coffee beans, grass-fed butter and olive oil, it delivers a grab-to-go and delicious beverage with the health benefits that ABC fans expect.
Your introduction paragraph should also cover the who, what, when, where and why of the press release.
Expand Further In Supporting Paragraphs
Once you’re done with the intro, the next paragraphs are for supporting information and context.
This is where you should add weight to your press release with expert quotes, statistics, research or case study details and excerpts.
If you’re including quotes, they should be from the main subjects directly connected to the story. Let’s see an example:
The new product line provides lasting energy from healthy fats instead of sugar, allowing consumers to boost their performance and unleash their full potential.
A result of years of scientific research and testing, this coffee brew is currently rolling out at all the Target stores across the nation.
ABC Instant Coffee Brew Details:
- Key ingredients include X, Y and Z
- Available in 3 flavors – A, B, C and D
- Free from sugar and artificial preservatives
“When you’re looking for an immediate boost in energy and get to your stronger, sharper self fast, this new pre-made coffee version delivers the same results as our original ABC coffee that customers love,” said John Doe, Vice President at ABC Cafe.
It’s not about just stating facts or patting yourself on the back. Your supporting paragraphs bring your press release to life with details.
Direct Reader To Next Steps
At the end, you want to summarize the press release and include a call to action. Make it easy for them to gather more information on the subject.
How can the journalists learn more should they be interested? Or who can they talk to? Include a brief bio and background of the company, along with concerned person’s name and contact information. Here’s an example:
About ABC Cafe
Founded by coffee specialist and biochemist, John Doe, ABC Cafe is on a mission to provide the best, science-backed nutrition products to help people transform their performance and live healthier, longer lives. ABC Cafe’s most popular products include X, Y and Z.
Twitter: @abccafe | Instagram: @abccafe | Website: https://abccafe.com/
Also note that it’s also customary to add three hashes at the end to signal the end of a press release.
Keep It Short
The length of your press release should be no more than a page. About 400-500 words is an ideal number to aim for.
There may be exceptions, for instance, when you include a list of features or something else which is absolutely necessary.
However, you may want to keep in mind that the companies which get away with long press releases are the ones which already have a well-established brand.
Make It Reusable
Wherever possible, use exact quotes from the person who is closest to the narrative. This increases the press release’s appeal to reports.
Having easy access to quotes eliminates the need for them to schedule an interview. Moreover, it makes it easy for them to write their news piece because they can expand the article by just copying and pasting the given quotes.
Generating Buzz With A Press Release
With the press release best practices in your hand, you’re now ready to write one for your business.
While a great press release alone doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get ample media exposure, it’s certainly a high priority component of your effort to secure press coverage.
Other pieces of the puzzle, like proper promotion and consistency also matter in the long run. By writing and distributing a press release at regular intervals, you can eventually build up your brand power.
You only have to get lucky once, since press often follows other press. Once you get your first mention, it’ll make a big difference in your approach to secure other mentions.
Did I miss anything? Did you try these tips? Do you have any questions or comments? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.