10 Simple Steps to Writing an Effective Press Release
Some of us have heard the phrase "press release," but we are not sure what it really means.
What is a Press Release?
A press release is an official statement sent to members of the news media with the goal of presenting information, making an official remark, or making a public announcement. Press releases are also regarded as primary sources, as they are the first sources of information.
A press release is a document that follows a specific format, but more on that below.
What is the Purpose of a Press Release?
The purpose of a press release is to create awareness about something important, generate publicity and make news.
A press release has three marketing and promotional purposes:
- To inform the media about an event in the hopes that it will be widely publicised.
- To disclose information about your company so that a reporter would pick up on a story in your press release and turn it into a news story.
- To boost your company's online presence through blogs, websites, and social media.
- To generate backlinks and boost your web page’s search engine optimisation (SEO)
What Makes a Press Release Newsworthy?
Here's a list of items to include in your press release that is newsworthy:
- Announcing a new product
- Promoting an upcoming event
- Opening a new business
- Rebranding or updating your company name
- Crisis Management
- Partnership announcement
Often our clients want us to send out a press release that we feel will not be picked up because it’s not newsworthy.
Ask yourself, will the readers of this publication be interested in this article? Is it interesting to readers or just to our company?
10 Steps To Follow When Writing A Press Release:
Step 1: Plan A Headline Worth Reading
First impressions last the longest and the headline of your press release is the first thing that the reader will see. The subject line should be impactful and concise, emphasising the most important aspect of the announcement. A headline of 10 words is most effective, and remember to use a subtitle of 20 words or less.
Here are some examples of good press release headlines:
- [First 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Rolls Off The Line]
The headline is brief and sweet, taking up only a little portion of the paragraph. Because this is a press release for a product launch, attractive photos and/or videos of Chevrolet have been added on the body of the press release, so you don't need to attach them when sending a press release unless they request them
- [eBay Inc. James Jaime Lannon Chief Executive Officer]
This press release gives a brief summary of who, what, when, where, why and how. James gives a strong quote to enhance the press release and at the end. The press release gives us a short description of who eBay is and what the journalist needs to know about eBay.
Contrary to popular belief, it is best to write the headline last. The reason for this is, once the body copy is completed you will have a better understanding of what the press release is all about.
According to Cision, you should avoid using all capital letters for example: “CAPITAL LETTERS CAN DRAW UNNECESSARY ATTENTION AND OVERWHELM THE READER”.
Step 2: Writing the First Paragraph of Your Press Release
You have to include the five Ws in the first sentence as much as you can, but no more than 20 words. Your phrases should be clear and simple to understand. All important aspects of the news should be highlighted.
The five Ws include;
- Who: who are the main players, who is the company and who is the release about?
- What: what’s your topic and why do readers care about it?
- Why: why did you choose this time to send out a press release and how will it affect the readers?
- When: when is the new hire, the product release or the other event taking place?
- Where: where is the event being held or where is your company?
- How: does your release help your readers and provide a valuable experience, and how?
“Your intro paragraph is crucial – spend 90 percent of your time to get this right. This needs to be your entire story in less than 25 words. Make it strong but avoid hyperbole and exaggeration. That’s a major turn off for a reporter.” – Alistair, Founder at Class: PR
Press farm explains “Avoid the temptation to provide background information of the company and the founders here. This can be included in the boilerplate at the end”.
And make sure you use active voice, as passive voice makes the content less appealing.
Lastly do include hyperlinks, they will help drive traffic to your website which is great for sales as well as SEO.
Step 3: Have a Word Count in Mind
In general, the length of a press release should be short and sweet. It should get straight to the point because journalists and editors don’t have time to read a two-page press release. Remember they are looking through a large number of press releases everyday in order to discover the one that interests them.
According to Prowly, “A press release should be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 400 words. That’s roughly one printed page. There’s no crime in falling a little short or going over by a bit but if you have significantly fewer or more than that amount of words, something is wrong”.
So when it comes to writing, the best thing to do is cut, cut, cut. Write it out once, then remove all repetition and redundancy - if it’s been said, it doesn’t need to be said again.
Step 4: Include Some Good Quotes
Strong quotes are frequently what makes a story engaging and more interesting. A few remarks from an expert or someone who is involved in your event can help to establish credibility.
Serena Ehrlich, Director of Product Marketing for Business Wire explains that “Today, PR pros must take a new approach to their quotes. Quotes are a powerful way to reframe your story. But to create a quote that truly tells your story, you must think about your audience, not yourself. You must refocus the content of your quotes, and how they’re presented within the press release”.
Step 5: Use Figures and Statistics
It is important to Incorporate statistics into your press releases to increase the impact and legitimacy of your message. Journalists will continue to be captivated by numbers and figures.
According to Praveen Nagda, a journalist's mind is analytical and strives to realise the significance of considering the story. It enjoys scrutinising, probing, questioning, and further examining a tale to evaluate its validity. The "how" of the press release's plot is just as important as the "what" about it.
Step 6: Writing Style, Keep It Clean
A press release should include factual information, it must not be filled with unnecessary information. Most importantly, make it memorable.
Ensure that your language is grammatically correct, that spelling errors are avoided, and the names of people and organisations are spelt correctly.
Step 7: Know Your Target Audience
It's crucial to understand who is reading your work. Knowing your target audience can help your press release gain a lot of traction. Have in mind who would be interested in your topic and which newspapers or media outlets will reach these individuals or businesses.
Ask yourself, which publications do my customers read? Buy them or find them online, and research who the editors are, especially for your industry as some publications have specific writers that cover different topics.
The most effective message in your press release won’t be heard unless it's communicated to the relevant people in a way they can understand, regardless of what method you choose to use. For example; you can’t send a fashion magazine or fashion blogger a press release about a new hire in your organisation because they are not interested in that kind of news. You will only get their attention when you send them a fashion-related press release.
Step 8: Include Contact Information
It is important to provide contact information in case journalists might wish to contact you personally after reading your press release. To make it possible for them to do so, we must first provide them permission.
According to Lifehack, It’s also good to include website addresses embedded right in the press release so reporters can check that out for more information.
Step 9: Add Boilerplate Copy
A boilerplate is a one-paragraph description of your organisation with the important business information that appears at the bottom of the document. It provides your press release more credibility and allows you to include a call to action and a link to your website in addition to providing information about your company to interested journalists.
Some companies don’t think having their organisation’s boilerplate information on a press release is important, forgetting that the objective of boilerplate is to provide a professional description of the organisation in a short amount of time. Its worth is determined by how this one sentence or paragraph characterises your company.
Here’s what to be included in a boilerplate copy:
- What your company does
- Awards or recognitions
- Link to your website
- Company tagline and company logo
Step 10: Attach an Accompanying Image
One thing you should always keep in mind when sending a press release is that you should accompany your press release with an image. It's important to assist the journalist in visualising how the story might appear in a magazine or on the web. The appearance of the page is just as significant as the title in attracting readers to an article.
According to JurnoLink, Here’s what to remember when attaching an image to accompany a press release:
- Select a press release-related image.
- Always select high-quality images
- Prepare additional images to provide to journalists because you will never know if they will ask for more. To be on the safe side, always have them ready.
And Lastly, When should I send out my Press Release?
- Never send a press release on a Friday and Monday if you want it to be seen by a journalist.
- According to statistics, the best time to send a press release is between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Email open rates increased by more than 45 percent during these hours. After lunch, rates drop to 15%, so your release has a slim chance of being noticed.
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These guidelines will assist you in crafting an effective press release that resonates with your audience.
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Now that you have come to the end of the article, you are equipped with all the knowledge you need to write an effective press release.
I hope this was helpful when it comes to writing press releases! Feel free to join our Digital Marketers Unite Facebook group for the latest tips and tricks on digital marketing.
Good luck, and give us a shout if you need help.
About Mihle Hele
Mihle Hele is a public relations graduate, holding certificates in Digital Marketing, Fundamentals of Digital Marketing, Email Marketing, and Social Media Marketing. She enjoys reading but when she is not reading, you'll find her at a park with family and friends.
You can reach Mihle Hele at: