Every marketer should know how to write an effective press release. They’re essential for ensuring the media and public know your latest news. They are also cost-effective – aside from any paid distribution, they only cost your time to write. Press releases are a strong communication tool and can be put out to press at numerous points within your brand’s calendar. They are typically read by journalists, but sometimes general audiences might see them too.
When is a press release needed?
When your business has something newsworthy to communicate to the media, a press release is an effective way to communicate this. They are also an effective way of controlling how a brand’s message is being communicated.
Think about the events that could be worthy of a press release such as the launch of a new product or service, your business’s reaction to a key piece of industry news or research, a new partnership or contract, some great year financials or new high-profile staff.
Remember that relevance is key – a press release is specific to your business and it is not a general news item. So, even if it is referring to some business news, it should also refer back to how it impacts on your business.
Why send a press release?
Businesses of all sizes use press releases to achieve all sorts of goals. Some common objectives include:
- To get media coverage – for instance when your company releases a new product or feature.
- To build your brand’s reputation – such as re-launching your brand image
- To manage a crisis – if something has happened in your business, it’s often beneficial to break the story yourself first.
- To build back links from trusted media sites
- As a cost-effective way to market your organisation
The fundamentals of a press release
When writing learning how to write a press release, there are some basic rules to follow. If you look at any press release format you will see that they follow a simple structure, which often includes the following key elements.
- Headline – This should be short and to the point. A huge amount of press releases are circulated every day, so you need to make sure that yours immediately grabs the attention of the reader. Keep it professional and use title typeface to make your headline stand out even more – but never use capitals!
- Opening paragraph – This is all about the five Ws used in journalist. A news stories should tell the reader who the story concerns, what happened, why it happened, where it happened and when it happened. These details should be included in a short opening paragraph that serves as a summary of the content.
- Body – This is your opportunity to go into more detail – but remember stay on topic! Only include relevant details that add information and depth. Don’t be overly promotional and keep it short, concise and relevant.
- Quotes – Quotes from your key business figures are always effective – this is your chance to publish a well thought-out, polished quote that reaches a wide audience.
- Boilerplate – This is a paragraph of standard text that you can insert into any press release. It’s simply a short ‘about us’ section letting readers know a little about your business. It adds context and offers an editor or journalist more information about your brand and company history.
- Contact information – Don’t forget to include relevant contact information at the bottom of the press release. If you expect significant media interest, you might consider funnelling queries through a single company contact.
- Date – don’t forget to date your press release. If you send it out ahead of a launch or announcement, clearly state that it is not to go out until a specific time to avoid unwanted early leaks of important news.
How to distribute your press release
Once you’ve crafted your press release, you need to distribute it to the media. The aim is for your release to be picked up by media outlets, bloggers and journalists who want to follow up on the story. As such, you might consider drafting several versions of your press release targeting different audiences. Industry journalists might be much more interested in business stats, whereas the a consumer journalist might be more interested in the human angle of the story. Remember to post your press release on your website and promote it through all of your social media channels.
Finally, remember you don’t need a press release for every bit of company news. Ask yourself, is it really newsworthy? An effective press release can be a valuable way to build your brand image, promote your business and gain traction.