Some people say the press release is dead.
Do you know what I say to those people?
They’re writing the wrong press release and have the incorrect PR materials.
When properly constructed, a press release can be your key to getting featured in top-tier publications and noticed by well-respected journalists.
But the keyword there is properly.
Journalists receive dozens (and that’s probably an understatement) of press releases in their inbox every single day. Will yours stand apart from the rest? Or be sent to the dreaded trash bin, never to be seen again (and certainly, never to be written about).
Luckily, you don’t need to do your own research on how to write a press release. We’ve done it for you! And gathered top-notch advice from more than a dozen public relations professionals on everything from boilerplates to event press releases.
Next time you’re writing and pitching any of these types of press releases, keep in mind the following advice.
Then, sit back and watch the media coverage come through.
We asked PR professionals their best advice on writing press releases that perform. Here's what they had to say.
Do everything you can to show that you know the publication you're pitching, so your press release looks less like a generic mass e-mail. For example, when I send press releases to industry magazines, I might change up the subject line and first paragraph depending on whether the magazine is for the plumbing, HVAC, or electrical industry.
Make it as easy as you can for journalists who receive your press release. Writers these days have to generate ideas and work fast, so if you can include a few good article/post ideas that can be very helpful—just a headline and quick description of the idea and how you can help. Make sure the ideas aren't all about you, you, you, but would incorporate different viewpoints/products including yours. So instead of Why our wedding website is the leading website in the industry, you could try Top 10 Ways to Avoid Wedding Scams (where of course one piece of advice might be to go to your website to vet vendors).
Linda Formichelli, Inbound Content Manager at Commusoft
TIP: Get your press release read using press release distribution software.
My advice on press releases: Capture the whole story in the headline/subhead. Avoid effusive self-congratulation. Have a killer boilerplate.
Hugh S. Moore, Vice President at Broadsheet Communications
Tricia Heinrich, Chief Content Officer at Bospar
Don’t just announce news; put it in context. Ask yourself and others: why is this important and why should people care? This will help you write a really relevant release that’s not just inwardly focused.
If possible, tie the news to a trend or current event. For example, when announcing a prescription drug management solution, discuss the number of opioid deaths that happen in your area that could be prevented with the solution.
Include a meaty quote from someone outside your company, such as an industry expert, government official, customer or investor.
Mara Conklin at Clarus Communications
In order for a release to have value outside of just being company news, it has to tie to larger events and trends that are happening in the world. Try to connect your news to the bigger picture by using external data. Also, make sure that the quotes from the principals don't just repeat the news of the release but also add value and insights into how this news is relevant beyond their own company. How will the news impact customers and end users?
Deidre Woollard at Lion & Orb PR
SHARE YOUR PR INSIGHTS
The true purpose of a press release is to communicate that you or your business has a genuine news story to share. If you start from this position you’re on the right track, if you just release a list of information in the vain hope you’ll get a free plug, you’ll fail.
A quality press release should help a journalist to do their job. Don’t make life hard for them. Journalists are incredibly time poor and overloaded with dumb ass pitches. You need to stand out from the crowd with a compelling and well-written story.
To do this ensures your press release has a killer headline – one with a genuine news angle. What do I mean by this? Well, news is something that is new – it’s got to have the wow factor. If you don’t have this, don’t create a press release.
Your intro paragraph is crucial – spend 90 percent of your time to get this right – this needs to be your entire story in less than 25 words. Make it strong but avoid hyperbole and exaggeration. That’s a major turn off for a reporter.
Next. you can elaborate on the facts behind your story and then introduce quotes from a key spokesperson that explain the ‘why’ and the passion behind your story.
The absolute key takeaway is that the release MUST have news value relevant to the journalist you are pitching to, otherwise it will be headed for the junk folder.
Alistair Clay, Founder at Class:PR
Carol Rose at Marketing Worx PR
When writing a press release, find the story within the story. For example, if you are giving a donation to a charitable cause, highlight the charity and explain what it plans to do with the donation and how it will make a difference. Include photos with your press release so that reporters have art to use with your release should they choose to write about it. Think in terms of providing a package of storytelling, quotes, and photos to make a reporter’s job of covering your press release as easy as possible
Chris Cline, Media Relations Specialist at Veterans United Home Loans
Journalists are busy, so I recommend following the T.R.U.E method for writing press releases. This ensures that you deliver the best value to media outlets and improve your placement conversions.
Trending – Tie your press release to a trending topic
Relatable – Have an audience in mind when drafting the press release
Unique – Offer a new perspective or data that others haven't covered yet
Exclusive – Offer access to an insider for exclusive quotes
Jonas Sickler, Marketing Director at ReputationManagement.com
The most effective press releases build a narrative around an announcement. What do I mean by that? Well, think about a company that’s invented a new heart valve and has just launched it.
A standard press release might announce the new product and talk about how many lives it’ll save. That’s great and it’ll get some column inches. However, you’re leaving it up to the journalist to either build a story around it or keep it short.
A really good press release, on the other hand, will include information on the founder’s motivations, the product and the company’s goals for the future. For example, maybe the founder’s father died of heart disease and he or she wants to bring this product to market to save other people.
David Vallance, Communications Officer at LeaseFetcher
Kristen Lueck, Director of Editorial Communications & Digital Marketing at Remedy Review
Debra Dixon-Anderson, Founder and CEO at Light of Gold PR, Marketing, and Consulting LLC
Before writing the press release, research should be done on what the media has been covering in recent weeks or months. Re-angle your press release to discuss how your new product, service, or award is relevant to the issue. Remember that journalists don't care about your product or your company (unless you are an industry giant), so you have to make them understand the value of your press release in the context of the whole industry
Jomel Alos, Online PR Lead at Spiralytics
The structure of a press release is one of the most important aspects. Start with an opener that grabs attention and instantly communicates the most pertinent message. Then step back and go into more detail about the news/event/product, keeping things concise and relevant to your target audience. Finally, close with a call to action or the message you want to leave in the mind of the reader – this can even mirror your opening sentence to really drive the message home.
Alex Barber, PR Manager at The Pen Warehouse
One way to make your press release unique is to use a statistic that is provoking, runs counter to conventional thought, is interesting or humorous. A stat like that can make your headline pop and grab the media's attention. Another way to ensure your press release gets attention is through the use of shareable multimedia. Telling your story through visuals, such as infographics or videos, is a compelling way to get the attention you deserve. Lastly, speaking of videos, you could turn your press release into a short video! This provides a creative way to show the media your story.
Alexis Bealer, Account Associate at McGrath/Power Public Relations
How you choose to write your headline depends on your distribution strategy. Will you be posting it up on newswire or will be you targeting specific media outlets/journalist? If you're going to use newswire and similar press release distribution platforms, then you want to keep the headline with a general interest, not diving in too deeply to a niche-specific aspect of the release. Have it target the general audience instead of your primary audience. Keeping it somewhat general will ensure your release won't be disregarded by journalists who don't typically cover your industry as easily.
If you're targeting specific outlets (or even better journalists), then you can get a bit more creative. Look into what some of their recent articles have been covering, as well as which ones have been viewed or shared online the most. Then see if there's a correlation between those articles and your press release. If there is, make sure your headline reflects the connection. An outlet or journalist will be aware of which of their pieces are doing well in regards to readership and will be more likely to write a story about your release if it touches on what's been performing well that week.
Alex Belanger, Digital PR Coordinator at seoplus+
Are we missing your favorite piece of advice on writing press releases? Tweet it to me at @Claire_Brenner and we’ll add it to the list! And if you want even more, be sure to check out our ultimate guide on how to write a press release and how to write an electronic press kit (EPK).
Claire is the content marketing team lead, coming to G2 after graduating from the University of Dayton. Born and raised in the Chicago area, her brief stint in Ohio gave her a new appreciation for deep-dish pizza, but left her well-versed in Cincinnati-style chili and "cities" with a population fewer than 400,000. While not writing, Claire can be found practicing calligraphy, seeking out the best dive bars in Chicago, and planning her next trip. (she/her/hers)
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