Your marketing strategy might involve a mix 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 small business to the next level.
But how do you make that happen for your business? How do you attract the attention of your local news, let alone news sites like 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.
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.
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, especially if you regularly send out press releases sharing newsworthy topics.
Simply saying “Look at my business!” isn’t newsworthy. Announcements that are, however, include:
- Launching a new business, product, or service
- Holding a large contest or competition
- Partnering with a charity, community organization, or celebrity
- Hosting an event
- Winning an award
- Sharing a customer success story
- Announcing a merger or acquisition
- Rebranding your business
- Promoting or hiring a new executive
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 media, writing a press release provides several added benefits. First, it’s a cost-effective tool you can add to your marketing strategy, especially if you’re a startup with 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 the event of a crisis, a press release offers you a chance to respond to a story with your own. And distributing your story through a press release service can boost your content marketing efforts by increasing web traffic and improving search engine optimization.
Another benefit is the ability 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 professionally and save the reporter time by making pertinent information easily and quickly accessible.
Free: Press Release Template
To help you get started, we put together this template to help you structure your story using a common press release format. You can replace each component with your own information and adapt it according to your needs.
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Types of press releases
Press releases are normally seen as just a way to generate publicity. However, there are many different types of press releases, each with their own formats and rules.
This is the most common type of press release. News outlets always want to be the first to cover a breaking story. From COVID updates to cryptocurrency, there’s breadth in what news outlets will cover, but it’s the hook in your story that will get your press release noticed. These press releases can be one- or two-page documents that share the latest news with the public.
Getting news of your product launch published gets the word out and drives sales for new offerings. A news release like this highlights your product’s pricing, availability, specs, and other useful information for customers.
Mergers and acquisitions
If your company is undergoing an organizational change remarkable enough to write a press release, you can use it to inform stakeholders about the company’s potential growth. When announcing a merger or acquisition, include details about the organizations involved, quotes from leadership, and information about the merger or acquisition.
Got a big product update in the works? Let the world know by writing a press release. This is similar to a product launch release. The main difference is that with product updates, you’ll want to focus on the changes made, why you made them, and how they affect the end user.
Event press releases can give reporters something timely and relevant to publish. They are also a great way to promote your event and get more attendees. When writing a press release for events, make sure to clearly explain the details. Use bullet points or a list to highlight the who, what, when, and where for readers to easily comprehend.
If you team up with another company or non-profit, it could be newsworthy. A press release announcing partnerships can be a smart marketing tool for both companies.
If you want to successfully execute this type of press release, make sure to:
- Write an overview of each company
- Explain why the partnership was created
- Include who is benefiting from the partnership
- Add any extra details for current and future partners
Rebranding is often a challenge for businesses both big and small. Customers may end up confused if their brands change identity overnight. A press release announcing your rebrand can help ease the transition into this new phase of your business.
When writing a press release for your rebrand, include:
- What the changes are
- Why the changes are taking place
- How it affects your customers
- When the changes go into effect
- Quotes from leadership
At bigger companies, executive promotions are considered big news. Organizations are constantly hiring and replacing leadership roles. Announcing changes in key positions can help stakeholders understand what’s going on and kick off a candidate’s new role in the company.
Did your company win a big award? It’s OK to brag about it. Announcements about industry awards can help solidify your company’s reputation as an expert in the space. A press release for award nominations should include:
- Why your company was chosen
- Details about the award
- Information about the ceremony (if there is one)
How to write a 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 writing an effective press release:
- Find a newsworthy angle. Even a well-written, personalized press release will fail if the story it’s telling isn’t interesting to a journalist’s target audience.
- Craft an appealing headline. Use the main benefit from your press release to write a headline that is both clear and compelling.
- 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.
- 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 grabs the reporter’s interest.
- 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 can be found.
- End with your boilerplate. Provide a brief background and overview of the company. Include contact information. (At the bottom of the press release, it is common to include three ### symbols or “–30–” to signify the end.)
As we stated before, 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 a 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.
Sample press release format
There are seven parts to a standard press release:
- Title and italicized subheading to summarize the news
- Location where the news is based, i.e., your headquarters
- Two to three paragraphs of details
- Bulleted facts
- Company description at the bottom
- Contact information
- A “###” at the end
When sending a press release, include when you want reporters to publish the news in the upper left hand corner. Two common options are:
- “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE,” if you want the story to go live right away.
- “HOLD FOR RELEASE UNTIL…” if you don’t want the story made public yet. Be sure to include the date when sending.
One common formatting mistake businesses make when writing a press release is making it too long. Michelle Garrett, a PR consultant at Garrett Public Relations, explains, “Don’t try to cram everything under the sun into your press release. The purpose of a press release is to give an overview and a few pertinent details about what it is you’re announcing.” She adds, “Include one or two executive and/or customer quotes. Then be sure to include links to visit for more information.” Aim to keep your press release short, sweet, and to the point.
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A press release template you can use
To help you get started on your press release kit, we put together this template to help you structure your story using a common press release format. Simply copy and paste it into Microsoft Word or Google Docs and start writing. You can replace each component with your own information and adapt it according to your needs.
[Headline that announces the story and captures attention]
[Subtitle that quickly summarizes your story]
[CITY, Month, Day, Year]—[Company Name, Company Description] announced today [the who, what, when, where, and, why of your story].