Press releases lie at the heart of any business’ public relations (PR) strategy. Typically, a press release is a condensed report of news-worthy updates regarding your company or organization. These updates can include announcements, product launches, upcoming collaborations, and more. They’re mainly addressed to journalists for media coverage but may also reach stakeholders, investors, and the general public. Aside from delivering valuable information, press releases can do wonders for your reputation and brand image.
In this dedicated guide, we’ll highlight the most important considerations for writing an effective, attention-grabbing press release.
The subject of a press release is perhaps the most critical component. Since media coverage experts don’t have hours to dedicate to each piece they receive (well over a hundred every day), they must be able to select the most news-worthy ones at a glance. Ideally, your press release headline should be well-phrased, informative, and most importantly, be a promise for valuable content. So, make your subject line as engaging as possible to compel them to look into your story.
Your opening paragraph needs to be a condensed version of everything that follows. Assuming that the reader won’t make it past the first paragraph, which is often the case, will encourage you to get your main message across quickly and effectively. To write the best press release possible, whether you operate a small business or a multinational, PR specialists recommend using concise language and putting the most important information first (think inverted pyramid structure). In case you don’t have an in-house PR team, some research will point you towards plenty of experienced service providers.
Just as you would when writing an article or a college research paper, always answer the five W’s: Who, what, where, when, why (and possibly “how”). Your target audience expects a comprehensive and well-structured piece; if you falter on providing certain relevant information, they’ll simply move on to more compelling reports. As such, making your press release detailed yet to-the-point will guarantee its effectiveness and news-worthiness.
Adopting the right style and tone of writing can make or break your press release. While they’re a safe bet, using standard and overused formulations won’t leave much of an impression on your readers. Remember that your goal is to make an impact in a very short time span and that a unique voice will help set you apart from the crowd. In that optic, keep sentences short and sweet, avoid obscure jargon, and stick to the facts. A spell check never hurts either, which brings us to our next point.
In fields like communications and PR, it goes without saying that typos, errors, and oversights can eat away at your credibility. Your style may very well be on point, but if the piece is riddled with mistakes, this can dissuade journalists, reporters, or investors from taking you seriously. Not to mention the damage to your business reputation. To prevent these common pitfalls, make it a point to edit and proofread your piece thoroughly before sending it out.
Generally speaking, quotes can be a powerful tool to bring a human touch and maximize the media value of your press release. Whether it’s a statement by the CEO, an operations manager, or a fundraising chair, the quote should be relevant, fit naturally within the context, and not sound “canned.” It’s important to make sure that it’s genuine, well-phrased, and placed strategically across the press release. Including more than one quote can give the impression that you’re trying too hard and diminish your credibility.
Never assume that a news reporter or a potential investor will know where to find you. To promote effortless communication, be sure to include your contact information by the end of the press release, should any interested party want to reach you for further information. Mention your name, email, phone number, and corporate address, or provide the contact of the person who’s in charge of communications. Don’t hesitate to include a link to your company’s website, Twitter, and Facebook pages as well.
Think of boilerplates as business I.D. cards. These descriptive paragraphs, usually found at the very end of a press release, reflect the company’s corporate identity. An effective boilerplate should include a few sentences that summarize your business’ name, size/headcount, founding dates, and mission statement. This helps you conclude on a positive, authoritative note, and remind your readers of who you are and what you do. Check out boilerplates from major companies like Apple, Target, or Nike for inspiration.
As challenging as that might sound, an effective press release shouldn’t exceed one page in length. Two, at the most. The idea behind a press release, as we’ve established, is to convey important and news-worthy company developments in a concise manner. This entails fighting the urge to ramble, at the risk of losing your audience. Much like writing a CV or a tweet, it should be kept to-the-point and reflect all information you want your readers to walk away with.
Lastly but most importantly, you must keep in mind that the time of publication is of the essence. Issuing a press release requires strategic timing on your end for optimum exposure. Always be aware of the general media landscape, and keep track of what your competitors are doing. You don’t want your groundbreaking story to coincide with major political or economic headline news, a natural disaster, or anything that might pull the public’s focus away. As such, make sure to conduct enough research to place yourself strategically for maximum effectiveness.
At the end of the day, it’s fair to say that press release writing is a delicate yet indispensable business endeavor. Budding tech startups and well-established retailers should be able to communicate their latest developments, whether it’s a product launch or a new partnership. Hopefully, these various tips and recommendations will help you win the PR battle and take your company to new heights!