How to Write a Press Release

Your marketing strategy might involve a mixture of emails, social media, advertising, events, and other tactics, but one mention in the press can multiply all those efforts tenfold, sending a surge of new customers your way, and even take your business to the next level.

What is a press release?

A press release is a document that announces a newsworthy story about your brand that the media might want to cover and provides all of the pertinent information a reporter or editor would need.

How do you attract the attention of your local news, let alone The New York Times? You can simply focus on your business and hope you catch a reporter’s eye, or you can speed the process along by writing a press release.

Some outlets will share your news based solely on the press release. Other times, they’ll contact you to arrange an interview or use you as an expert source for another story. This is especially the case when you regularly send out press releases sharing newsworthy topics.

A good way to gauge the newsworthiness of your story is to pay attention to coverage that other businesses receive.

Reporters look for stories that are timely, affect a large number of people, have an emotional element or relate to other news stories. You could also tap into what people are talking about, either in person or on social media. If your business has a connection to a bigger story, you may improve your chances of getting covered.

The benefits of writing a press release

In addition to catching the attention of the press, writing a press release provides several added benefits. First, it’s a cost-effective tool you can add to your marketing strategy, especially for startups that may have a limited budget. Since releases are posted online, you might draw prospective customers and backlinks to your site as well.

A well-written press release also helps you control your story. You can share what’s important to you and call attention to the value you offer. In case of a crisis, a press release offers you a chance to respond to a story with your own. And distributing your press release through a service can boost your web traffic and SEO.

Another benefit is the option to share your press releases on the “news” or “press” page of your website. This can help establish you as an expert in your field. When a reporter visits your site and finds press releases available, you come across more professional and save the reporter time by making pertinent information accessible.

How to write an attention grabbing press release

Press releases follow a consistent format that makes it easy for reporters and editors to find the information they need. It’s important to stick to the press release format to help reporters decide to cover your story.

Here are seven steps to write an effective press release:

  • Find a newsworthy angle: Even a well-written press release will fail if the story it's telling wouldn't be interesting to a journalist's readers.

  • Craft an appealing headline: Use the main benefit from your press release to write a headline that is both clear and compelling.

  • Introduce essential information: Before the first paragraph, state your company’s city and state, followed by the date. Then your opening paragraph should answer the questions, "who", “what”, "when", "where", and “why” in a way that gets the reporter’s interest.

  • Summarize your story in your subtitle: Summarize the entire content of the press release in a single sentence that supports the heading and gives a taste of the content to follow.

  • Provide supporting information and context: Add weight to the release with testimonials, statistics, research details, and case study excerpts. This is also the place to include a quote from the main subjects involved in the news.

  • Lead into the reader's next steps: Summarize the article and include a call to action or details of where more information on the subject matter could be found.

  • End with your boilerplate: Provide a brief background and overview of the company. Include contact information.

A release should offer something newsworthy, but it also helps to make the writing interesting.

Start with a strong headline that conveys the value of your news to the press. The headline should be catchy but also easy to understand. Professional writers often spend as much time on the headline as they do writing an article. If you need inspiration, review your favorite blogs and online news sources and pay attention to the headlines that make you want to click to the story.

In the first paragraph, immediately tell reporters why they should share your announcement by explaining why their readers care. Share a startling statistic, counterintuitive fact or innovative development. Then use supporting paragraphs to bring your release to life, with details and colorful quotes. Simply stating facts or sounding self-congratulatory won’t do.

Complete your release with a strong but succinct boilerplate.

Clearly explain what your company does and why its stakeholders are experts in the industry. And don’t forget to include contact information. A release won’t go anywhere if a reporter can’t easily contact the stakeholder or his or her representative.

How to submit and distribute your press release

Once you’ve written a press release, it’s time to send it out. You have a few options for distribution.

First, you can make a list of the media outlets whose readers and viewers would be most interested in your news, and send your release directly to them via email. You can find their emails with a quick internet search: [reporter name] + [news outlet] + email address.

If that doesn’t produce results, use a tool like Hunter that will provide an email formula for an outlet. Or simply connect with them on Twitter or LinkedIn.

You can also distribute your release using an online service, such as:

  • eReleases

  • PRNewswire

  • PRDistribution

  • PRWeb

  • Newswire

These companies send your release to journalists based on their specific interests, as well as publish it on their website where it can be found. Each service offers a variety of options, and costs can vary greatly, ranging from $69 to a few thousand dollars.

Another option is to hire a public relations professional who can write and distribute a press release for you. These professionals often have existing relationships with the press and may be able to facilitate placement easier.

If your news is time-sensitive, such as an event or announcement, send it to reporters a few days beforehand so they have time to craft their story. If you want news outlets to hold off on publishing until a specific date, release it “under embargo,” which simply means reporters can’t share the information until the time you specify.

Generate buzz with a press release

While a press release doesn’t guarantee coverage, it can be an effective marketing tool. By sending out releases with a regular cadence, you start to build up brand recognition with members of the media.

Next Steps:

You never know when they might be looking for a source in your industry, remember your company and reach out for an interview. By sharing newsworthy information, you become a thought leader in your field.

If you do get coverage, keep the buzz going by sharing those stories on social media. Mention previous coverage in the boilerplate of your next press release. Press often follows press, and once you get your first mention, you might find it easier to get a second, third, and so on.

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