So you scored a new funding opportunity. Or maybe your company has a new CEO. Or you’ve just released the latest groundbreaking annual report for your industry. Congrats! But the response is…meh.
When the currency is attention, you need to earn it. (They don’t call it earned media for nothin’.)
Writing a press release can seem like it’s all about you. Your company is the star, isn’t it? But taking that approach won’t get you far because everyone reading your release wants to know why they should care—what’s in it for them? What is the golden ticket that the editor, and therefore, the reader will find in your news that they won’t find elsewhere?
Ready to try a new approach to writing press releases? Here are five tips to take your press releases from asleep at the wheel to full-speed ahead.
What is a press release?
A press release is a way for brands to share exciting news and updates with the world. It’s an official document that’s crafted to capture the attention of the media and inform them of the latest developments from a particular company or organization.
Press releases can cover a broad range of topics, from new product launches to major events, and they’re a great way for businesses to get their message out to a wider audience. By sharing their news through a press release, companies can generate media coverage and gain more exposure for their brand.
One of the best things about press releases is that they’re a cost-effective way to promote a business. They’re free to distribute and can be shared through a variety of channels, including online news portals and social media.
10 Tips to Write a Winning Press Release for Your Brand
1. Know your audience.
The first step to writing a successful press release is to know your target audience. Who are you trying to reach? What are their interests and pain points? Understanding your audience will help you create a press release that resonates with them and captures their attention.
2. Write an attention-grabbing headline.
Complex, wordy headlines may seem like a great idea. Stuffing your headlines with all the important details should be the best way to garner attention, right? Wrong. Including more than necessary is going to land your press release in the trash bin. If it isn’t clear and concise, journalists won’t spend time trying to decipher what you mean. They will move on to something more quickly palatable.
In this example of a bad headline that our CEO Shama Hyder discussed in her newsletter, we can see exactly what wordiness does to a headline:
“XYZ LLC. Prepays $916,555 of Note Principal Using Free Cash Flow From Operations, Leaving Only $1,833,555 of Secured Debt.”
Did your eyes glaze over? Ours did.
Not only is it wordy and full of business jargon, but it also buries the lede—journalistic jargon for not emphasizing the most important point. The lede here being that XYZ LLC’s key to success is reinvesting profits to pay down one-third of its debt. Now that may be newsworthy for the right business reporter.
As a base, press release headlines should include the name (or names) of the company(ies) that the release is about and a basic description of what newsworthy action the company is taking. Include significant details, but don’t go over the top. Ideally, 80 characters or fewer is all you need for an impactful, clear headline. You want to leave the target interested, but also give them reason to keep reading.
3. Write an engaging first opening paragraph
The opening paragraph is your chance to hook the reader and get them interested in your press release. Start with a strong opening sentence that grabs their attention and sets the tone for the rest of the content. Make sure to clearly state the purpose of your press release and what the reader can expect to learn.
4. Get to the point.
Your lede sentence and first paragraph should be bold and concise. Your first sentence should mimic the headline, including the name of the company and a short, active description of the newsworthy action.
The point you make in your press release should answer the question: What’s in it for them? The readers, the journalists, the municipality—whatever community your press release is newsworthy for. Lead with one of the following:
- A strong data point: 85% of employees are ready to quit—According to the report released by COMPANY NAME this morning. This startling fact….
- A strong and active sentence about what the company is doing: COMPANY NAME broke ground on the world’s largest XYZ facility last year, and next week this ground-breaking facility will be open to the public.
- The impact of an action that the company is taking: 7,000 Students in XYZ location will get free school lunch thanks to COMPANY NAME. CEO NAME has pledged to donate $XXXXX to the XYZ school district as part of their new charity initiative.
In the first few sentences after the lede, add detail and description to build on the opener. Key details could include:
- If the PR is about securing a round of funding: Who is providing the funding? How much funding is it? How much funding have they received previously? And what will the funding go toward?
- If the PR is about opening a new location: How many other locations does the company have? Is there anything unique about this location? What will take place at the location? How many employees will work there?
- If the PR is about a partnership between two companies: What does each company do and how will those efforts be used in the partnership? What is the aim of the partnership? What is the expected outcome? Who is heading up the relationship?
Related read: How To Make Boring Company News Into a Press-Worthy Story
5. Avoid jargon.
Avoid using industry-specific jargon and technical terms that may not be familiar to your target audience. Stick to language that is simple and easy to understand.
6. Support your story with numbers, statistics, research, and quotes.
In the following paragraphs, tell the story. Write a narrative that will engage the reader. Use striking statistics and colorful quotes that will help paint the picture for reporters. The clearer—and more compelling—that picture is, the more likely it is that you’ll get the coverage you seek.
Use this space (one to two paragraphs) to build on the detailed and dynamic opening paragraph and tell the story of the company (or companies) and the event or activity taking place. To support your narrative, you can include third-party research or studies. Proving what you say is true with outside sources will make your claims (and your story) more appealing to a reporter. This section should:
- Include quotes from key players: CEO, company president, or other decision-maker involved with the event or action
- Use language that evokes emotion or significance:
- COMPANY NAME is excited to usher in this new era of…;
- Distraught over the economic implications of the last two years, COMPANY NAME is empowered to…;
- This first-ever opportunity will enable…
- Illustrate how the company’s news might be featured in a publication:
- COMPANY NAME’s announcement will send a shock wave through XYZ industries, completely reshaping…;
- Companies and consumers alike will be compelled to learn more about how this new technology will impact their everyday functions…;
- This initiative is a response to XYZ major trend that is dominating the news—proving that…
Related read: Maximizing Press Release Exposure
7. Have a clear CTA.
All good CTAs need to be persuasive, create a sense of urgency, and be low-risk, high-reward endeavors. In a press release, a CTA can be a standalone sentence or the last sentence in the last paragraph of the release. Your CTA should tell the reader what you want them to do. For example:
- Contact our team for early access to our new job site.
- For an exclusive early-access demo of our new product, contact us today.
- For additional details and commentary, please reach out.
8. Ensure you include your contact info.
This might seem obvious, especially if you are sending press releases directly to a journalist. They have your email, right? That should be enough.
That journalist may decide it’s not the story for them and forward it (or worse, print it out and hand it) to a colleague. Or it may be delivered to a generic inbox that reporters or editors share for assignments. The writer will likely not know you personally, and with newsroom capacity dwindling, journalists don’t have time to waste searching for contact information. If it isn’t there, they just won’t move forward with the story.
In addition to a company boilerplate—which summarizes who the company is, what they do, when they were established, and by whom—every press release should have PR/media contact info that includes a press contact, phone number, email, and a link to a press kit, if available.
This section should also include the company website, social media handles, and any other relevant information. In other words, make it impossible for the reader or journalist to NOT know how to reach you and the companies involved.
9. Use high-quality images.
Images and graphics can help to illustrate your message and make your press release more visually appealing. Make sure to use high-quality images that are relevant to your content, and ensure that they are properly labeled and credited.
10. Distribute Widely
Once your press release is written, it’s time to get it out there. Consider using a press release distribution service to reach a wide audience or target specific journalists and media outlets that cover your industry. Make sure to follow up with journalists to ensure that your press release has been received and to answer any questions they may have.
5 tools for crafting a press release
Canva is a graphic design platform that offers a range of templates and tools to help you create professional-looking designs, including press releases. With Canva, you can choose from a range of pre-designed press release templates, or create your own from scratch using their drag-and-drop interface. Canva also allows you to add images, graphics, and other elements to your press release, making it more visually appealing.
Pressfarm is a PR platform that helps businesses create and distribute press releases to journalists and media outlets. The platform offers a range of templates and tools to help you craft a press release that is both engaging and newsworthy. Pressfarm also offers distribution services, which can help you get your press release in front of the right people.
PRWeb is a press release distribution platform that offers a range of tools and resources to help you create a press release that gets noticed. With PRWeb, you can choose from a range of templates and customize them to fit your brand and message. The platform also offers analytics and tracking tools, so you can see how your press release is performing.
Newswire is a PR platform that offers a range of services, including press release distribution, media monitoring, and analytics. The platform allows you to create a press release from scratch or choose from a range of templates. Newswire also offers distribution services, which can help you get your press release in front of the right people.
Prezly is a PR platform that offers a range of tools to help you create and distribute your press release. The platform offers a drag-and-drop interface, which makes it easy to create a professional-looking press release. Prezly also offers distribution services, which can help you get your press release in front of the right journalists and media outlets.
By following these tips, you can write a press release that is engaging, credible, and effective in getting your message across. With the right approach, your press release can be a powerful tool for generating exposure and building your brand.
Have any of these tips sparked the inspiration to craft your next press release? Share your ideas with us on social!
Need help creating killer press releases and handling media coordination? We’ve got you covered. Reach out.