With the volume of information available, organizations need a way to control their image and the conversations surrounding their brand. One way to do this is through a press release. Whether sharing important company news or announcing a new and exciting product, timely and meaningful updates go a long way to building a company's image and fostering productive media relationships.
In this guide, we talk about how to write a press release and share templates to reach out to journalists.
A press release is an official statement sent to the media to make a public announcement to generate interest in an organization.
The press release was invented in 1906 by Ivy Lee, who worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad when an accident occurred. To avoid a negative narrative being written about the story, Ivy wrote to explain it was an accident and sent this to journalists. It was here, at this moment, that the first ever press release was created.
Depending on the news you wish to share, you need to consider the format and tone you use. Check this article we created for the different types of press releases, along with actual examples. Below is a list of the most frequent press release types:
Sharing important corporate news is a great way to draw attention to your company, and a press release is an ideal format to share the news.
Worthy news to share could be a new partnership, a triumphant funding round announcement, or a new corporate logo. Companies often use a press release to announce a rebranding. It can prove more tactful than suddenly launching a rebrand if you have not already offered a prior statement of intent. It states what is changing, the reason for the change, and key dates. Ideally, quotes from the leadership and relevant stakeholders are included.
This is where you provide the who, what, where, when, why, and how. You can also specify which media it is open to, why it's being held, and how to attend. The cost of admission (if applicable) is stated, as well as where revenues generated will go.
When things don't run smoothly and there is the potential for harm to your brand, a press release offers you the chance to respond to a negative story or event with your account. You first need to acknowledge the crisis, explain that you will look into it, and then what will happen moving forward to remedy it.
Hiring an executive is important news to make public. Executives act as the face of a company. A press release gives the chance to kick start the executive in their role. Previous and related job experience could be provided, along with a quote from the new hire announcing how pleased they are to join and what they are looking forward to doing. A photo is often included to make it more personable.
After a significant amount of research and development and endless hours of testing and refining, your product is ready. You want to tell the world, but how should you go about it? Put yourself in the customer's shoes that the product (or service) is targeting. What is it about the product that helps the customer? What features or aspects of your product are different, more appealing, or better than the other products on the market? Perhaps your product is cheaper, can be delivered faster, or is available in more sizes, shapes, or colors?
It's important to point out that only significant product updates should be communicated using a press release.
If journalists receive too many press releases from you about topics that are not newsworthy, they may ignore the important ones. For example, it’s probably not worth creating a press release for a slight modification to an existing product feature. Instead, better to wait for a brand new game-changing feature.
Nothing lets people know how well you are doing better than an award. Clearly state the award, give an overview, and explain why you got it. Any details or photographs from the ceremony would also be good to include.
Press releases are appropriate when an organization undergoes a significant change, particularly if the news needs to be communicated to current and future stakeholders.
It would help if you announced any mergers and acquisitions or new partnerships by including information about all organizations involved and quotes from the leadership teams of these companies. Information should be given on the companies involved.
However, the need for a press release should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. It is not always appropriate.
To garner attention to a non-profit cause or charity event, a press release announcing this could gain the attention of a big audience and multiply the event's impact. It gives publications a chance to run the story and will likely result in more publicity for you and the charity.
An embargoed press release is a news release shared before it is officially released. Before making the information fully public, a specific time is agreed upon. Journalists then have more time to research and arrange interviews with relevant people to report the story accurately. The advantage for your brand is that a timely and accurate story is published to your audience, free from wrong information.
You must instantly grab the reader's attention to get your press release covered. If it fails, it's over before it's begun, and your press release will wind up in the bin. There is no time to be creative or reinvent a tried and tested format, that's my we suggest to use press release templates. Trust us. Stick to the basics. It's the only way. Here is what that format looks like:
Readers will be able to recognize your brand because of your color logo. The logo tells them who you are right away.
The headline is the first thing anyone will read. So make it count. It must draw the reader in and make them want to read more. Keep it concise.
Think of it as an extra layer to entice the reader. What else can you say to show how interesting your announcement is? What would make you want to read on? Remember, it should be no more than 25 words.
It is customary to start your first paragraph off with your location and the date. Put this in capital letters.
The 5W's and 1H get introduced here: What the news is about, who is involved, when and where it happened, and why it is essential, plus the how. A good tip would always be to hyperlink the first mention of your company so journalists can easily find your website.
A brief explanation needs to explain why a reporter should find this exciting. An excellent way to think about this section is to focus on what your news can do for others. For example, why is your new product better than what currently exists? What will be the impact on the industry? Also, include a sentence on plans for the company.
You need to demonstrate the importance and relevance of your news. Factual information like statistics or quoted recommendations from a credible source goes a long way.
Let the reader know this is the ending of the announcement with three-centered hashtags: ###.
The word boilerplate is an unusual name for a straightforward thing. The boilerplate is the section of your press release where you give your company background, any applicable awards won, or anything of particular note. Link this to the press kit so journalists can access photos, logos, etc. Also, provide the direct contact details from which they can get more information or direct questions.
The first step in writing a press release is choosing an angle that matters to your target audience.
A specialist magazine will take a different angle from a local newspaper regarding the story it will cover. You should write different versions of your release for different audiences. Consider not only potential readers but also journalists. A good press release won't get you anywhere if you don't do your research and target the right journalists.
An organization generally has a goal or objective, and the press release should align with that.
It could be a promotion of an executive, the launch of a new product, or perhaps some other company news.
The newsworthy angle could be because the topic is something that will resonate with the target audience. Or it might be timely and on-trend and new in the market. Whatever it is, it needs to be newsworthy!
It can be a challenge to find and develop the right angle. In searching for a way to make your information newsworthy, some helpful questions to ask yourself could be, "does my news help people save money?" or "does it have wider consequences?" Or, "is this a topic under discussion currently in the industry?" It might be that you have educational content to share that will impact readers. Think about how your information is unique and different from the competition. An exciting story won't be enough to get a reporter's attention if it's not well–written and personalized to that audience.
Once you know your news is newsworthy, it is time to think about the simplest way to convey it to your target audience. If you are new to writing press releases, it is a good idea to get help. You only have one attempt at making a first impression.
One way to improve the headline is to get feedback internally.
Getting feedback is especially important for a critical press release. Write a few variations and ask relevant colleagues for feedback.
As with a headline, the subtitle gives further information to draw a reader in; it summarizes the press release's content in a single sentence that supports the heading and offers a taste of the content to follow.
The first sentence should include your company's city, followed by the date, in CAPITALS.
The most important thing to remember when writing a press release is to make it engaging and appealing to read. The journalist, editor, or blogger you send the press release to has lots of these to read. On the other hand, consumers see news stories all over their timelines. Your headline needs to be interesting enough to reel them in.
Use a pyramid approach to delivering your story. The pyramid approach is pretty simple.
In the first sentence, give a complete overview of the entire story.
The order in which these six facts will change depending on the news story. For a new well-known CEO in the industry, the “who” would come at the beginning. Every sentence after the first sentence should build on these six key facts. No new facts should be introduced later in the press release.
If your story comes from an external source, cite it. It shows the legitimacy of what you offer and that what you have is credible. In the era of fake news, this is crucial. You can use anchor text here for this.
The next step is to provide reporters with a quote that explains how your announcement will affect the industry or customers.
Quotations should come from key stakeholders in your company, including your executive team, project leads, or those directly affected by the announcement.
Concentrate on the unique perspectives of one or two critical spokespeople. A quote from a well-respected person underlines the importance of what you have. It should shape the angle of your narrative and get to the core of the statement.
By now, the audience should know the fundamentals of your announcement. You could add value by giving details on how the announcement came about. It could be from a creative standpoint. You can enhance its value by relating your press release to something currently in the news to make it more valuable to the reader. This practice is called newsjacking.
To test that your announcement is easily understood, ask someone with less knowledge to read it and explain it. If they do understand, then it's good to get confirmation. If not, focus on the parts that were hard to understand, use feedback to make it more straightforward, and improve on readability.
Here is the time to add anything not included so far. It could be one final "departing fact" to leave with the reader. Add in any visuals that could draw people in. People respond to this. For example, a couple of product photographs can go a long way.
Don't forget to add your direct contact details. Hence, journalists know how to contact you, especially as they often seek to understand more and ask additional questions before proceeding with the story. Do not neglect this part.
Do not forget to add details about your company. A reader needs to know what your company does, or the announcement won't make sense. Describe this briefly and clearly, and give your company's website via a link. If your statement includes details about any other company, do the same for them.
Reread it. Does it make sense? Does it flow? Is it newsworthy? Is your headline suitable? Check that all the critical elements are present and that no information is missing. Make sure it is not too promotional. Check for grammar and spelling mistakes. Any of these will put a big dent in your credibility and make you look unprofessional.
Send in your chosen format. See below for more options and information regarding this.
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The PDF format may seem outdated to release a press release statement, especially with other options we have today, but many journalists prefer it. PDF can potentially negatively impact SEO but does offer a quick and easy template that many find helpful. We would still recommend it.
Plain text is the safe option. However, it looks less attractive than other options and may blend in with whatever else a journalist gets in their inbox that day. On the upside, it is easy to copy and edit and easy to read.
The interactive press release is the latest format. It is user-friendly, easy to copy, download, and aesthetically pleasing. Due to the analytics panel, the interactive press release offers measurability metrics to see who opened and read it. While some people may not be ready for this format, it will be the future, so why not embrace it? Journalists are more likely to remember it.
In press releases, facts are shared with journalists to be published. Brands, celebrities, and nonprofit organizations can reach their target audiences through them. Even in the digital age, they are still very effective at gaining positive media attention, boosting your profile, and attracting new customers. But things can often go wrong. Here are the top 5 things to watch out for:
Journalists can receive ten-plus pitches daily, with well-known publications receiving even more. Your pitch needs to stand out. It needs to be genuinely newsworthy.
Ask yourself if it is exciting or new or if anyone outside your circle will want to hear about it.
Pitching news that is not relevant will waste your time and harm your credibility for sending future pitches.
Avoiding targeting the wrong media audience starts with the proper research to select the right journalists and avenues for your story. The angle of your pitch must match the journalist's perspective, so being aware of what they cover and the angles they take is crucial. You will also need to research their readership and what their readers' interests are.
The headline must be clear and concise, summarizing what follows in the rest of the document. Keep it snappy.
Avoid sales-sounding headlines (the kind that goes to your spam folder) or anything too dry and rigid sounding.
You want them to keep reading, not switch off.
Keeping your pitch in the third person is essential. Saying "we" or "I" is a big no when writing a press release. Don't believe us? Just pick up a newspaper, and you will see that all stories are in the third person. Using the third person allows journalists to tell a story about someone else. Reporters write about other people's stories and not their points of view.
There can be a point, if not careful, that your pitch can turn into a sales promotion. To avoid getting into this danger zone, read your pitch to make sure it doesn't sound like you're trying to sell something. Pitches are not advertisements. They are appetizers.
If, after reading this guide, you feel like you are ready to start writing a press release but aren't sure which format to use, don't worry; we have created press release templates to cover the most commonly used reasons to write a press release.
You can download here our press release templates and fill in the blanks.
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To give yourself the best chance of getting media coverage, hone in on journalists who cover your industry. Research what they cover and send them a personalized message letting them know why you are writing to them. It is much harder to gain coverage through a journalist who rarely, if ever, covers your area of expertise.
It is also imperative to use and leverage pre-existing relationships.
By sharing your story a day or even a week before with the right outlet, you can give them a head start to write, research, plan and do what they need to do to craft their story. The embargo means they cannot divulge any information you sent until you specify when. Check in with them after two days to ensure they have everything they need.
You can republish your release on your website or through social media channels. Making the news sharable using sharing buttons allows others to quickly forward or share your information. But don't stop there. If published, you can also release the next wave of distribution by sharing the "second" stories that come from being published by the outlets.
It's possible with the use of analytics to see who opened your email, downloaded an attachment, or visited your site. Specific distribution platforms also provide reports detailing the coverage received or the number of backlinks. Using analytics makes it possible to assess your format and tactics, thus giving you invaluable data for planning future campaigns.
The key to a successful press release is knowing your audience, knowing your topic, and doing your research.
By researching competitors and paying close attention to what media coverage they get, you can build knowledge of what journalists want to publish.
Interactive press releases are becoming more commonly used. While the format is changing, technology, social media, and mobile access impact how we send and receive information, but the overall message doesn't. You need strong, concise messaging to gain the curiosity and attention of the reader. How you present this needs to be simple and easy to follow.