Why do you need to write a press release? Well, simply put, because the media has great power and influence over society. It is not without a reason that the media is known as “the Fourth Power”, or “the Fourth Estate”.
Therefore, it is important to have good relationships and connections with the press. You never know when you are going to need them.
Today, we are going to learn all about what a press release is, how to write one, how long it should be, and much more.
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What Is a Press Release?
A press release is a way to share news about your business with the media. Keep in mind that there should be a valid reason for writing one. Something that is newsworthy, like launching a new product, merging with another company, hosting an event, winning an award, and so on.
Another important thing to consider is that your press release should be directed towards a specific outlet or journalist. It is not something that you just write up and send to every newspaper and news website you can think of.
On the contrary, a press release should be targeted, and as such, you should take a moment to think about who you are sending it to.
If you are writing a press release for a small, local newspaper, for example, you could write about supporting a local sports team or school event.
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How Long Should a Press Release Be?
In accordance with the press release format, you should keep the length of your message under 500 words, and ideally between 300-400. Essentially, you need to be concise and straight to the point, without any unnecessary explanations, and/or details.
Interesting fact: The first ever press release was written in 1906 by Ivy Lee, a publicity expert, working with the Pennsylvania railroad. It was written in response to a tragic train wreck that took the lives of over 50 people. Lee released his statement explaining what had happened. It was so well received publically, to the point that even The New York Times published it.
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How to Write a Press Release: 8 Easy Steps
- Write a Captivating Headline
- Include Location, and Date
- Start With the Most Important Facts
- Provide More Context
- Tell the Facts Honestly
- Avoid Using Jargon
- Add Contact Details
- Finish With a Short Business Bio
1. Write a Captivating Headline
To start things off, a press release should begin with a short, captivating headline that immediately grabs the attention of the reader/journalist, and gets to the point of the story.
A good idea would be to look at the titles of the articles published by the outlet you are writing to, and craft one that is similar.
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2. Include Location, and Date
A good way to establish relevance for your press release is to include the location of your business, and the date the press release is being issued.
While this appears to be a very simple task, it could be very useful to journalists, since they are usually quite busy, and seeing the exact data, and location could help them determine the priority of their actions.
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3. Start With the Most Important Facts
Now, onto the main text. You need to start with the most crucial information. In the opening paragraph, you want to include the five W’s:
- Who (is this story about?)
- What (is happening?)
- Where (is it going on?)
- When (will it occur?)
- Why (is it important?)
Again, the goal of your press release is to avoid wasting time, and state what you want to say right away.
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4. Provide More Context
After you have presented the most important information, you can proceed to adding a bit more context to the text. Of course, you should not overload the journalist with too much redundant information. Only write about what would interest them, and what they need to know.
For example, you are hosting an event, you have stated that right from the start of your press release. Now you can add a couple of lines about the history of your company.
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5. Tell the Facts Honestly
You might be tempted to show bias towards your business, but a press release is not the place to do so. Instead, the standard is to tell the facts honestly, and in an unbiased manner.
After all, no journalist will be impressed with you stating how good you are. If anything, it might irritate the reader, and leave a bad impression. Let the facts speak for themselves – for instance, if you have an award, that speaks for itself. You don’t need to elaborate too much on how you got it.
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6. Avoid Using Jargon
Industry jargon might sound cool and savvy when speaking to people that know what it means. To a journalist, however, or the average reader, it will most likely mean nothing. In fact, it may only lead to confusion.
A press release full of jargon will probably bore people and minimize your chances of getting a positive response.
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7. Add Contact Details
First, you need to make sure the readers understand when the press release is over. Typically, this is done through typing ### at the end, but depending on the part of the world you are in, it could also be XXX or -30-.
Next, below those symbols, you need to add your contact details. It could be your own, or those of someone else in your business. Don’t forget to include the full name of the main contact, phone number, and email address. You can also add links to the social media profiles of your company.
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8. Finish With a Short Business Bio
Finally, at the end of your press release, you want to feature a short bio of your business. Do not get too carried away with colorful descriptions, and flowery words. The text should be similar to what you would have on your About Us page.
Basically, it should be information that is more or less evergreen like when the company was founded, what you do or what industry you’re in, what accomplishments your business has achieved, etc.
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Types of Press Releases
There are various types of press releases, each one requiring a different format. Here are some of the most common types of press releases:
- Breaking News. This is possibly the most common type of press release. A breaking news story can generate tons of publicity for your business. What is more, media outlets always want to be the first to report on such news, giving you the chance of being featured prominently. The length of these documents is usually one to two pages.
- Acquisitions and Mergers. You can use the significant changes in the organizational structure of your company to write a press release by informing stakeholders about what is going on. When announcing acquisitions and mergers, a good idea is to include details about the companies involved, quotes from leadership, and information about the deal.
- Events. Writing a press release about an upcoming company event is a great way to promote it, and get more people to come. It is also good for journalists, who like to publish timely and relevant news. Just make sure to be clear about the details, and use bullet points to highlight the most important info about the event.
- Rebranding. Company rebranding is always challenging, no matter how big or small the company is. A press release can help with the transition by notifying customers of the changes, how the changes will affect them, when they will be going into effect, and so on.
- Awards. Did you just win an award? What better way to brag about it than to share it with the world. Keep in mind that, when writing a press release about an award, you should mention why your company was selected, a few details about the award, and some context about why it matters.
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Congratulations, you now know how to write a press release! Make sure you convey your message properly, and that it grabs the attention of journalists and readers alike. By doing this, you will definitely increase your chances of getting published.