Press releases are an ideal and easy way to get out the word about your business’s announcement, whether it’s an upcoming event, project, new hire or promotion. If you need help getting your news or announcement out there then you should approach a credible PR company who are well experienced in this area.
Most journalists will get hundreds of press releases each week – many of which don’t even get opened, so if you’re looking to get media coverage for your business, knowing how to write a press release is an essential skill.
Here are 6 tips that will help you to write an effective press release
1. Grab with a good headline
A headline is your first impression, and a journalist may use it to determine whether your story is worth reading. To make your press release stand out from the crowd, you need a catchy but informative headline.
Keep your headline to around six words and make sure it contains the most important piece of information. You can also use this as the email subject line of your press release.
2. Start off with a summary
When you write your press release the first line should be a summary of the story (ideally no more than 15-20 words) and read like the opening line of a news article.
Keep it brief, and get straight into the purpose, the story, and why the journalist should cover it. The last thing the person you’re pitching to wants is to read a seemingly endless block of text that never gets to the point.
The first paragraph of your press release should cover the who, what, why, where, and how of your new launch or update. Journalists don’t have a ton of time to sift through details and fluffy background information – they just need the facts that’ll help them understand your news.
3. Develop your story
In paragraphs two and three of your press release you need to really develop the news story by introducing key factual pieces of information and provide the journalist with the detail to create the story.
Remember, your job is to make their job easier. Avoid leaving factual gaps, or missing out on important elements they would require for the story.
4. Add a quote (or two)
Quotes are an essential part of your press release, make good use of them by throwing in some strong key messages to strengthen your news story.
Ideally, any quotes you include will be from key individuals in the company or those directly impacted by your announcement.
Journalists may end up using the quote(s) word for word so make sure to include the main message of your release. It should also read like a real person, and ideally sound like something the person you are quoting would say. Don’t use technical language or buzz words, you may have to answer any media requests if the press release gets picked up.
5. Include background information
Once you’ve written your key paragraphs, close your press release with a boilerplate paragraph. This is your “about us” section, so should include a description of what your business does, and any other things that readers should know about your business.
The last paragraph can also give readers more facts like availability, times and dates for an event (if that is what you are announcing) or any important information for people to take any potential action.
6. Don’t forget a call to action
Finally, you need to make it easy for a journalist to contact you for more information or if they have additional questions. Be sure to include your contact name, email, and phone number, and even a website address so journalists can check that out for more information. Don’t forget to include links to the company social media pages too.
How long should it be?
A single side of A4 is a good length for a press release. Sub-headings and bullet points can be useful to make information easy to digest, particularly if you’re including figures or statistics.
Read our blog post about keeping your press release short and concise.
Should you send attachments with a press release?
Yes, images should be sent if they are relevant to your news story. But don’t send big files as these can clog up peoples’ inboxes and attachments may be flagged as spam.
An alternative is to include under a ‘Note to editors’, that photos are available on request, rather than sending them as an attachment with your press release.
It’s a good idea to paste your press release into the body of an email – a busy journalist may not bother to open an attachment. Also include a short summary of your idea (no more than a paragraph) as your email top and where you think it might fit in the publication you’re pitching to.
Should you follow up on a press release?
Once you’ve sent out your press release, don’t sit and wait for a response. It is likely you won’t hear back from a journalist unless they’re interested in your story.
If you don’t get a response, you can slightly tweak your pitch email and send it again – your email pitch may have got lost. Give it three days and then send a follow-up email to ensure they got your first one. Chances are they haven’t read it yet and this will prompt them to do that.
That said, in a busy newsroom, things can get missed. So there’s no harm in putting in a follow up phone call to chase. But if you’ve followed up a few times and not had a response, it’s probably safe to assume they’re not interested.
If your press release is picked up, it will hopefully be published in print, online, and broadcast outlets that share your target audience. Aside from the coverage itself there are a number of PR metrics you can look at to understand the value of each media placement or company mention.
Read more about this in our blog post about effective PR measurement, for tips on measuring your PR campaigns.