The Best Way to Do a Press Release
Getting a press release article out is one of the best and time-tested strategies to get the public to know more about your brand or company. If you have milestones or special corporate news, the PR is always a standard part of the communication plan.
Back then (and still today), a PR or press release sample could always be found published in the newspaper. It appears formal since it follows a press release writing structure. You’ve surely come across it—an article announcing a new director or launching a product with a photo that looks like a formal gathering with nameplates and guys in business suits. Sounds familiar? That’s an example of a press release.
Today, the Internet and social media are becoming the prime location for reaching out to the public. Through interesting posts and catchy social media content—linking or leading to a PR article is easier and cheaper to do. Digital content can also be enriched with gifs and videos—a great strategy if you’re talking to the younger market.
Now, before you get excited, it’s best to start with the basics of PR.
What is a PR [press release]?
The press release definition is a “written document or communication that talks about an event, milestone, or announcement that is newsworthy for a company.”It is usually in a 2-3 page document written by the PR team or company representative. It comes in many names: media statement, news release, or even a PR brief.
The term “PR” also means public relations—so the PR release is meant to be distributed to the public. The content should normally be of value to the general public, but targeting is recommended because it would be impossible to talk to everyone in the world. Identifying a target audience also helps refine the messaging so that their readers would better appreciate the news meant for them.
Why do you need to write a press release?
A PR release is a way for journalists and media to get wind of your story and hopefully write about it. The press release format seeks to answer the 5 W’s: What, Why, Where, When, and Who, also if you can, How. If the media find your story interesting or relatable to their readers, then they may contact you to get more details. When they do, they can ask for quotations and pictures and better expound on this topic for their readers.
Another objective is to post the press release on your website as an added source of company news and announcements.
Some of the common subjects that you’d find in the press release are:
- Product launch, new services, website, or mobile app – Introducing new brand variants or launching a new app is a good way to spread awareness or innovation.
- Change in office location or branch expansion – This is also valuable information for clients and can be used for localized content or news.
- Endorser or brand ambassador – Brand building can harp on this PR release, especially if the endorser has a huge fan base.
- Leadership or management announcement – Business news writers are always keen on informing their readers about management changes.
- Partnerships or joint ventures – A new alliance or partners in the business is an opportunity to showcase a company’s strength and growth initiatives.
- Awards and accolades – These are good ways to build a reputation of a company by highlighting achievements.
- Other announcements – Other newsworthy announcements that can catch the public’s interests like groundbreaking projects, scientific breakthroughs, corporate changes (like a name change or a new logo), and events.
What are press release guidelines?
Writing an article with engaging content doesn’t automatically make it a PR release. A press release should be written in the third person and assumes an objective storytelling tone.
A formal template is the standard format for a press release. Not only does it make the document look official, but it also gives the media an idea that what is being distributed is a PR article and not a memo or a marketing proposal.
Here Is the step by step guide to PR:
- Header or upper left area contains the Media Contact/s. This section lists the appropriate PR contacts of the company and their contact details.
On the upper right side, it could be marked with something like “For immediate release (and date if applicable).” If you’d like the information to be released at a later date, it can be marked with “Embargoed until (applicable date).”
2. Next comes the important bit, the Headline of the article. The headline length of a press release is best kept at 4 to 5 words (or 65 to 80 characters), and the message should accurately and succinctly summarize the article. Keep the headline in a size 14 font that is bold and center-aligned.
A sub-headline is optional for a press release but can be useful as a secondary title, a teaser, a catchy quote, or an explanation.
3. The Body of the text follows, but there are also guidelines in writing this portion, especially the first paragraph. The first line should include a location and time stamp (the press release location and dateline)—just like an actual article. Cite the city and state followed by the date.
Top tip: The press release location format should be in bold with the state abbreviated. Examples: Portland, OR, April 23, 2015, or New York, NY, September 5, 2019.
4. The first sentence is called the lede for good reason. In 25 words or less, this statement should summarize the gist of the message. Think of a busy writer or editor who has a lot of documents to go through all day. They might not have enough time to read through your entire press release and will just scan the lede (or lead) if the content is newsworthy enough.
5. The rest of the body can be written in an inverted style. Think of the busy editor again. If he’s really busy and can only read a portion of the press release, then it makes sense to place all the important details and information at the top so that he can read them immediately. All questions on the what, why, who, when and where should be answered by the first few sentences with the reader even wanting to learn more.
Tip: Avoid using words like, we, us, ours, me, and I. Use words like, they, them, and theirs, do NOT make it look like an advertisement.
Press release best practices always indicate that an article should be well-written and informative throughout the pages. Just because you nailed the first paragraph doesn’t mean that the rest of the body can be dull.
If the journalist will use this material, it should be print-ready. If he does a copy and paste, the actual readers should love the material.
The rest of the press release should be relevant and engaging. It should continue to tell the story about the product or quote the visionary President whose innovative idea became a reality that saved lives. You can include outstanding figures or sales or mention the sustainability angle of preserving trees. Enumerating benefits or improvements in bullet form is also easy to scan and digest. Press releases for a business should make the business stand out to its readers to gain its objectives.
6. Speaking of objectives, aside from a closing paragraph, there should also be a press release call to action. Every piece should end with an action requested by the company to the media. It could be attendance or RSVP to the launch event or to visit the landing page of the new website. If there is no event or activity, you can also close it properly with a Contact us to learn more.
7. Another standard closing is to include the Company Information at the bottom, otherwise called the press release boilerplate. For a company that does a lot of press releases, there should already be Company Information provided by the PR team. Last but not least, the “###” at the bottom (center aligned) signals the end of the PR release.
What is the best way to write a press release?
Here are some press release tips if you are planning to write a media statement.
- Make the story newsworthy, concise and riveting.
No one wants a boring and novel-like piece. Keep it straight to the point, starting with the headline. Here are some press release headline examples:
- A New Chapter: Company X Unveils Revamped Logo
- Business B Expands to Asia with 30 New Branches
- Company J Appoints <Name> as New CEO
- Enterprise F Celebrates 50 Years with a Charity Tournament
- Know what your target audience wants.
Your story should include details and information that are relevant and interesting to your audience. It should resonate with them strongly so that they will continue with the desired call to action.
It may sound like a basic reminder, but a single typo could spell the difference between a proper story and a meme. Grammar checks the story, and for the benefit of the reader, use a press release font size of 12 and keep it double spaced.
- Use quotes and images.
Adding quotes from leaders or spokespersons and imagery are ways to dress up a PR release. They provide the much-needed break from the text without digressing from the essence of the piece.
- Get social.
Make use of your social media pages to post and promote your story. Deliver fresh content regularly by planning your story angles and captions. This way, you get clicks and prolong the media exposure.
- Optimize your PR post depending on the media format.
Craft your message to be on social media, Twitter, or Facebook-ready, and make sure to take advantage of videos and images. Keep within the correct length and ensure that the press release keywords are hardworking in the post.
- Be mindful of time.
Send your press release to journalists and media within a reasonable time frame—like 10 AM to 2 PM—so that you won’t interrupt them during their personal time, also Over saturating the public with frequent PR releases will create news fatigue. Instead, plot them in a calendar and align with a marketing plan to create more audience impact, exposure, and buzz.
- Don’t force it.
There are words you cannot use in a press release because they deviate from the goal of making it an objective news article. You don’t want to sound like a resume or an awards entry. Avoid words like passionate, innovative, the best, outside the box, authentic, thrilled, sophisticated, and anything that uses jargon. A word that may convey emotion, an advertising claim, or an adverb that just hypes a statement is waiting to be placed in the bin.
- Don’t use the second-person voice.
Using “You” already delves into marketing territory and is far from the corporate and neutral tone. When it sounds like an ad, then it is better off used in a marketing campaign or commercial.
- Don’t use marketing lingo and oversell your story.
Superfluous words and claims also belong in a marketing campaign. If you find yourself enumerating product features, benefits to the client, and the voice of the customer—then this piece belongs to a marketing brief. Otherwise, you’ll need to reword and repurpose to make it fit for PR.
- Don’t expect magnanimous results.
PR can be used as a communications strategy or support to a marketing drive. However, don’t rely on PR alone to drive sales, downloads, and page views.
- Don’t write a story if it isn’t newsworthy at all.
If it’s a side story or a client testimonial, consider using it as marketing content or a blog post. Or better yet, save these side stories until the bigger news arrives.
Where to post or publish a press release?
The press release should be sent to the media contacts or agencies who will publish it in the right media outlet. You need to have a strategy in the press release distribution to reach your intended audience. A new sports car test drive event will not be a hit in a ladies gardening club, and Gen Z will not be particularly interested in the CEO announcement of a bank.
The press release event and topic should be distributed to the right target audience to maximize awareness, visibility and generate the right kind of buzz.
Here are audience examples to target:
- Local business clubs and community
- Present clients and prospects
- Vendors and business partners
- Investors and stockholders
- Industry and thought leaders
- Other companies (competitors or those in similar industry types)
You can also target influencers and bloggers from the same area/specialization. If they find your content worth spreading, then they can also optimize your readership.
Once you’ve identified your audience, zero in on the journalists and media who can reach them effectively. If you work in an organization, your PR team most probably has a list of all your media contacts and the publications they represent.
It would be easier to shoot them an email with the PR material since they already are trusted and paid media contacts.
Press release media can also be found by checking your local newspapers and magazines and doing the traditional (manual) search for their contact details. You can likewise check where your competitors are being published and do more research online. The idea is to generate a list of the writers and journalists you’d like to send or email your PR release to and contact them individually.
If you have a budget, you can afford to pay for a news agency or a business wire. A business or news wire is a service offered to member companies and PR professionals who’d like to reach thousands of journalists and media outlets. It makes targeting and selecting the media easier—and in the same way, gives quick access to subscribing journalists to get hold of your story.
What are the Press Release Best Practices in 2022?
- Why DIY when you can get the help of press release distribution services
A press release business wire or news wire is a distribution service that helps you select the media you want whether locally or globally. Thousands of journalists and newsrooms subscribe to news wires, so your press release is sure to reach a wider audience and scope. This gives you more chances to be part of their scoop and saves you the hassle of contacting journalists individually.
Top tip: If you’re looking for cheaper alternatives, just search for budget-friendly newswire in Google.
2. Maximize your own asset—your website.
Having the press release on your website contributes to its professional and impressive content. Your website’s “News” section can be a repository of all the company’s PR activities and stories—easily searchable too.
3. Get the engagement flowing.
Once you share your news on social media and get great results, send out more related content. Follow up with related media and keep the story going.
4. Stick to the template, but not too much.
Nowadays, a 2-3 pager on a new endorser may strike you as boring. A concise but on-point press release is recommended—easily skimmable and not exhausting for both the writer and the reader. Try to keep it simple: a maximum of 1.5 pages in length with an average of 400 words.
5. Content is king.
Make it interesting. It’s not just about the text. The quotes and press release image may make the difference between getting picked up by media and just being ignored.
How much does a press release cost?
Here’s a ballpark figure of how much you may need to invest for a press release when engaging the services of a business wire. For USD 1,000-2,000, this covers a membership fee, outlets (more expensive if going national), and the standard word count (400 words). It will cost you more for every additional 100 words, and if you’d like to avail of some add-ons like multimedia and your logo.
Cheaper alternatives can cost you about USD 50 per release, prices vary between different pr websites, see top PR distributors below:
Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
Writing a PR release shouldn’t be that difficult. With the guide provided and a template to follow, all that’s needed is to think creatively on how to make it engaging and relevant to your audience. Make your story uniquely stand out in a sea of other PR stories. The key is to capture the media’s attention with your story so that they can deliver it to your desired audience. You can also employ social media to push this digitally to make the most out of your big news.
Here’s a mock press release example to help get you started:
John Maxwell FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Z Burgers Dishes out its New Vegan Burger called “Flying V”
MELBOURNE, FLA, January 12, 2022—Z Burgers, known for its triple cheeseburger and mega milkshakes, has expanded its offerings to now include a diet-friendly and plant-based Vegan Burger nicknamed the Flying V. The Vegan Burger is born from a homemade (and secret) recipe of Z Burgers’ resident chef Mr. Karl Brown and caters to the growing demand of its vegan and vegetarian customers. The Flying V comes packed with lettuce, tomatoes, and plant-based catsup—available in regular or wheat and gluten-free bun.
The Flying V is offered in combo meals with fries and drinks or a la carte. The company is keen on catering to the clamor of health-conscious clients and expects to increase its customer base with this vegan offering.
“Some customers come in the stores and just ask for something that a vegan can eat. That’s when we decided that we had to add more plant-based food to our menu,” says Chef Karl Brown with a culinary degree from the prestigious Burger University.
- Studies show that eating more greens and plant-based foods can improve cardio health and help shed obesity.
- Flying V also offers the same “burger” taste with just 50% of the calories and is the ideal option for clients who want to lose weight.
- 10% of clients are opting to go vegan or vegetarian so the Flying V will be able to cater to this growing segment.
- Competitors in urban areas are offering vegan varieties and experiencing the same influx in sales growth.
The Flying V is available in all 500+ branches of Z Burgers across the United States. You can learn more by visiting www.fyingvatzburgers. com. About Z Burgers. Z Burgers is a fast food and burger joint based in Manhattan, NY. Founded in 2010 by Z. Andrews, it started offering hamburgers in food trucks and rose to popularity when it introduced the triple cheeseburgers. By 2021, it has expanded to over 500 branches in the USA. Foodie Magazine awarded Z Burgers with the “Most Innovative Sandwich” award in 2019.