A press release is a written document prepared for the media — also called the press or newswire — that announces something newsworthy.
Typically, we think of press releases as being sent to newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and television stations.
These days, they’re also sent to influential bloggers and other online media outlets.
In short, a press release is an official statement delivered to members of the media for the purpose of providing information, an official statement, or making an announcement.
Press releases are often sent on wire services like PR Newswire or PRWeb.
But how do you know if your press release is newsworthy enough to send? And how can you ensure that reporters will give it the attention it deserves?
Here’s everything you need to know about writing a press release that gets noticed and delivers results.
WHAT IS A PRESS RELEASE
What Is A Press Release?
In its most basic form, a press release is a written communication that reports specific but brief information about an event, circumstance or other happening. It’s typically tied to a business or organization and provided to media through a variety of means.
Press releases are often published verbatim or slightly modified by news outlets. They can also be issued directly to the public via a variety of online sources.
While they’re not always expected to cause an immediate news story, press releases are intended to pique the interest of journalists. That makes them valuable marketing tools for companies and organizations.
What Is A Press Release?
A press release is a document that announces something newsworthy. It’s not a sales pitch, advertisement, or endorsement.
It’s a way to share your company’s story with the media and hopefully get your business featured in print, online, and on television.
The main goal of a press release is to inform the world about your company and its latest news.
If you can get the news media interested in what you have to say (and you should), they will write stories about your product or service and your business (and possibly even do it for free).
You’ll also want to be sure your release gets picked up by search engines and media outlets.
To do this, use subheads, bullets, and links to content that people may want to learn more about after reading your press release.
What Are The Different Types Of Press Release?
Press releases are a great way to get your company’s name out in front of the world.
However, before you put forth your best effort to draft the perfect release, it’s important that you understand the different types of press releases that are available to you.
1. Breaking News Releases
This is used for an announcement that has a hard deadline and can be used for breaking company news like acquisitions or retirements, new product launches and more.
Breaking news releases should only be used when there is actual breaking news in real-time and will be distributed immediately.
2. New Product/Service Launches
New product or service launches are one of the most common reasons for a brand to issue a press release.
Be sure to include all the details about what is new and why it matters.
This type of press release is most appropriate when you are launching a product or service that has never been done before, or at least has never been done on such a scale.
3. New Partnerships
If you’ve signed a new partnership agreement, consider using a press release to announce it to your audience.
Ideally, your partner will also issue their own press release announcing the same news.
Not only does this help establish credibility from a third-party source, but it also helps generate additional media coverage for both companies involved in the partnership.
Rebranding is another excellent reason for issuing a press release.
Whether you’re just giving your website a facelift, rebranding after an acquisition or merger, refreshing your logo and tagline, etc.
5. Traditional Press Release
This is the standard format and includes details such as when your company was founded, a list of products/services you offer, and any recent company news (mergers, acquisitions, expansion into new markets).
6. Video News Releases (VNRs)
These are becoming increasingly popular, especially among PR agencies that look after big brands.
A VNR is essentially just a traditional press release with a video or TV news package attached at the end.
The idea is to grab a journalist’s attention and make them more likely to run your story by including the video and pictures they need to tell it.
7. Blog Post Press Release
These are designed to be read by bloggers and not traditional journalists and so need to be formatted differently.
For example, product name should appear in bold at the beginning of each paragraph so that bloggers can easily identify it as they scan through looking for relevant stories
8. New Product Launches
The most popular category of press release is the product announcement.
A product announcement is just what it sounds like: a way to announce to your customers that you have a new product on the horizon.
9. Mergers and Acquisitions
If two companies merge or one acquires another, that’s newsworthy.
This can be especially interesting if the merger or acquisition involves an innovative company and/or a well-known company.
In either case, a press release is a must.
10. Product Updates
If your company has improved its products or services in some way, there’s no better way to let your customers know than through a press release.
Be sure to emphasize how your product updates benefit consumers or businesses.
Have an event coming up? A press release can be used to promote upcoming events, whether they’re conferences, trade shows, fundraisers or anything else.
Just make sure to provide readers with important information about the event, including dates and times.
That way, they’ll know exactly when the event will happen without having to do any extra research.
How Does A Press Release Work?
Have you ever wondered how news and feature stories end up in your local newspaper, or on the six o’clock television news?
Often, these stories are the direct result of a press release. But what exactly is a press release, when should you use one, and how do you write one?
Journalists receive many press releases every day, so to make yours stand out it must be interesting and succinct.
The golden rule of writing a press release is that it should be newsworthy and timely. It also needs to be topical and of interest to the publication’s readership.
The most effective press releases include an attention-grabbing headline that encourages journalists to keep reading, as well as concise body copy that answers all of the questions a journalist might have
(Who? What? When? Where? How? And Why?).
When writing your press release, it’s important to consider:
Importance: Why should people care about this story?
Impact: Will it make their lives better?
Interesting: Why people will want to read about your story?
Impressive: What do you want them to think about your story?
Inspiring: How do you want them to react to, or be affected by, the press release?
Press Release Examples
Let’s look at some famous companies and their press release style.
Microsoft has a content-heavy press release section that provides potential sources with everything they need to write a story about a new product or piece of software.
Each release follows the same format, including contact information for the company, relevant links, and a summary.
IBM is another company with an extensive list of press releases available on its website.
Like Microsoft, IBM’s press releases follow a standard format and include information on how to get in touch for more information.
This standardization makes it easy for writers to find the info they need and move on.
Amazon’s press releases are also available to anyone, but they’re much more concise than those from Microsoft and IBM.
Each release includes only basic information about the announcement being made — no quotes, no background and no statistics.
But these unadorned releases are perfect for writers looking for the facts without any extra fluff getting in the way.
Ford Motor Company
Ford doesn’t shy away from using bold images and graphics in its press releases.
A recent one announcing that it’s offering a high-octane gas engine included six different pictures of the new engine, along with two graphs breaking down aspects of the engine.
What Should A Press Release Contain?
For a press release to be effective, it must contain certain elements that will compel the media to pick it up and spread the word.
Make sure your headline is catchy, captivating and to-the-point.
It’s also important that your headline clearly conveys what the story is about.
Make sure you use keywords that are relevant to search engines so more people can find your press release.
Your summary paragraph should give a clear description of what your story is about. It should also capture the reader’s interest so he/she wants to keep reading.
The opening paragraph needs to include the who, what, when, where and why of your story.
If you have enough space, you may also add a quote here that sums up your story in one or two sentences.
The body copy elaborates on all the points raised in the summary and opening paragraphs.
You need to include all key information such as quotes and statistics here.
Press releases are supposed to be concise (typically no longer than 400 words) so make sure you don’t include any unnecessary details here.
A boilerplate is basically a short ‘about’ section that includes information about your company (or individual).
What’s The Most Important Thing About A Press Release?
The most important thing about a press release is its content.
It’s that simple.
A press release is a communication tool designed to engage journalists and other media professionals by presenting them with an interesting story that they can publish either in print or online.
If the content of your press release isn’t compelling, it will be ignored by members of the working media.
And if that happens, there’s no point issuing it in the first place.
Creating compelling content requires you to think like a member of the working media.
They’re busy people, and they don’t have time to do all the work for you by going through a long press release and turning it into a story themselves.
You have to do that for them. Provide clear facts and information, and make sure it’s easy for them to spot your key messages.
Media Pitch vs Press Release: What’s The Difference?
Press releases and media pitches are often used interchangeably and confused for being the same thing.
However, they are two very different tools in your PR toolkit and should be used at different times and in different ways.
A press release is a news item that is sent to the media to generate coverage of a story or event.
A media pitch is a targeted message to an individual journalist about why you have newsworthy story.
A press release is a great way to communicate announcements about your brand, but it can’t be used as a substitute for a genuine relationship with the press.
If you try to use it as such, chances are you’ll end up spamming journalists who will end up ignoring you.
Think of it this way: A press release is like placing an ad in the newspaper, while a media pitch is the equivalent of calling the reporter directly and asking him or her to write an article about your business.
How To Stand Out In The News
With the number of press releases distributed to media outlets every day – and the resulting competition for attention from journalists, it’s important to do everything you can to make your news release stand out from the crowd.
Here are some tips for doing just that:
1. Develop A Strong Headline
Develop a strong headline that summarizes your story in one sentence.
Using a catchy headline will help you attract attention and then get readers to click on and read the rest of your release.
2. Include A Compelling Summary
Include a compelling summary of your news in the first paragraph with quotes.
The summary is an opportunity to capture the reader’s attention right off the bat and get them interested in reading more about your product or service.
3. Share Interesting Details
Share interesting details about your company (or whatever your press release is commenting on), such as when it was launched, who founded it, its mission statement, etc.
Sharing this information helps build credibility and relatability with readers as well as show them why your news is worth their time.
4. Write In The Third Person And Use Active Voice
Write in third person voice using active voice instead of passive voice.
This will help you keep things concise (no fluff!) and make it easier for readers to grasp what you’re saying quickly and easily without getting confused by complex sentences or technical jargon.
How Do You Write A Press Release?
In general, the goal of a press release is to inform readers about what you do and why they should care.
Your goal might be different from mine, but here are some of the things that I think would make for a good press release:
1. Keep It Short And Sweet
A press release is generally one-page long, so keep it short and sweet. The idea is to get attention for your announcement, not to do your sales pitch in full detail.
2. Be Simple And Clear
Avoid jargon and buzzwords like “cloud” and “big data.” If people don’t know what you’re talking about when you use a term, they’re not going to understand what you’re saying when you explain it later.
3. Demonstrate Your Expertise
Show that you have enough knowledge to make a good assessment of what’s going on in your industry and where the market opportunities are.
4. Offer A Fresh Angle
Offer an angle that’s unusual or different than other companies in your industry.