Every company needs to maintain its image and reputation through a consistent series of public relations efforts. One of the main tools of public relations is a press release — an official, written announcement from an organization to the public.
PR professionals will publish releases on their websites and send them out to journalists in an effort to land earned media coverage.
It’s important to note that journalists vastly prefer releases that are relevant to their audiences.
Business journalists, for example, would look for corporate merger announcements, while consumer-centric media prioritize stories about the latest product launches.
Below, we’ll share a few tips for beginner PR practitioners who want to write a strong press release on their own.
How to write a press release
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Basics of writing press releases
Tip 1: Evaluate the topic
The first step is to acknowledge and evaluate whether the press release’s topic or angle is relevant to the target media.
Is this the same kind of story the journalist covers regularly? Would the journalist’s readers gain any benefit from knowing this information?
Common press release topics include new product launches, mergers and acquisitions, product updates, events, grand openings, new partnerships, rebranding, executive promotions/hirings, industry awards, and more.
The above press release is an excellent example of a product launch announcement that would cater to consumer-centric media. Business journalists may also be able to glean some value by examining the partnership.
Tip 2: Write a clear headline
The press release headline is the part that you hope will appear on the front page of the news outlet. Therefore, the headline must be clear, captivating, jargon-free, and focused on the key message you want to convey.
Ideally, by only reading your headline, the journalists (and the readers) can get the entire idea of what the news is all about.
The above press release hits the mark in this respect. It is clear and concise. By only reading the headline, the audience immediately knows the advantages of the new golf ball.
Most importantly, the brand’s unique selling points appear in the headline. So if readers decide to click away from the news without reading further, the message has still effectively been delivered.
Tip 3: Insert key information in the first paragraph
After the headline, the first paragraph of the press release must answer the 5W+1H questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how. These days, the average person’s attention span is only around eight seconds.
It’s important to deliver all the key information right away. If you put crucial information after this section (e.g. burying the lead), there’s a greater chance readers will miss it.
In short, your press release flow should follow the “reverse pyramid” formula:
Tip 4: Add a press release summary
One great way to “hook” the journalists’ attention is by adding important bullet points before the first paragraph. The bullet points are meant to summarize the news.
When busy journalists take a look at it, they’ll be able to instantly grasp all the important messages of the release and decide in the blink of an eye whether or not to run with the story. Bullet points let readers skim quickly; hence you’ll need to include all essential data and numbers in this section.
As you can see, Johnson & Johnson’s press release uses clear, straightforward bullet points so that readers can grasp all the key information before reading further. Announcing the new vaccine launch, J&J answers most of the anticipated questions, such as the USP (first single-shot vaccine), supporting data, and availability.
Tip 5: Insert quotes
A great press release always has substantial, relevant quotes from spokespersons.
The media is generally interested in hearing from public figures, experts, reputable organizations, or company executives. To ensure that your announcement is legit, make sure to add quotes from reputable individuals on the brand side.
Use this to your advantage, focus on featuring at least one company executive when announcing a business update. Meanwhile, when promoting a new collaboration with other parties, ideally, all the relevant stakeholders should provide a quote too.
Tip 6: Use data
To make your press release irresistible, be sure to add background information about the topic. By providing the industry landscape upfront for the journalist, you’re able to do half the job for them. It’s often overlooked, but providing this kind of data is one of the easiest ways to make your release feel more down-to-Earth and not overtly promotional.
For example, if you launch a new food product specifically for kids, it is wise to inject proof points about the trends in adolescent snacking, the market potential, and the typical problems that parents face.
Another way to add value to your press release is by ‘newsjacking,’ or relating your announcement to current events.
The above press release example by Jellysmack – a global video creator company – is on-point. On Valentine’s Day, the firm highlighted a new trend in which social media audiences were becoming increasingly interested in content created by couples. The company added multiple data points to back its claims and then explained why the trend was happening.
Follow these tips and you’re on your way to grasping how to write a press release that gets results.
Additional press release examples
Press release can be powerful for companies and brands that need to communicate with the public via the media. They inform the public about a brand's latest corporate actions, particularly those that will impact the company and its customers.
Pro tip: Because it's the media that picks up a press release and turns it into a story, companies must ensure that their updates and announcements are in fact newsworthy, and not just business-as-usual happenings.
1. Product Launches
Announcing the launch of a new product is one of the most common reasons for issuing a press release. This type of release generally carries a positive and upbeat tone, as it aims to create excitement and awareness for the brand's new product.
Product launch press releases contain key info, such as technical specifications, uses of the product, and of course, advantages for the customers. TikTok’s release on the launch of its Dare Me app, for example, mentions in the second paragraph how users can interact with each other and monetize content via the platform.
2. Product updates
Solutions and software often undergo upgrades, with considerable changes meriting a press release. Similar to product launches, product update PR should contain key info on what the new and improved features are, along with the benefits users will get.
Software giant Oracle released a big update to Java, now available as Java 17. The release hammers home the superiority of the latest version, namely with regard to software development. This shows that the release knows exactly who its audience will be: tech-related publications read by IT professionals.
3. Mergers and Acquisitions
Mergers and acquisitions constitute major corporate moves that require announcements via press release. These are carefully crafted to ensure accuracy and transparency, as they will typically be noticed by competitors, industry players, and market analysts.
Companies can choose whether to partially or fully disclose the financial aspects their M&A deals. Most usually include quotes from companies involved in the deal to show that all sides recognize and support the corporate action. Further, this type of release outlines the ways a merger and acquisition will impact business operations while enhancing the products and services delivered to the market.
Forming a big new partnership is another reason to make a formal announcement. These are highly strategic corporate actions that will hopefully boost a brand's standing in the market. Again, partnership announcements need to emphasize which segment of business, product, or service the two or more companies will collaborate on.
Tech behemoths SAP and Amazon revealed their strategic partnership through a joint press release. The release clearly mentions which business units and solutions (Amazon Business and SAP Ariba) will tie-up with one another, given that both companies support a range of business arms. Even better, the release inserts a quote from a client who gives good word on the expected benefits of the partnership.
5. Awards and Recognitions
Winning an award is a moment of pride for companies. Accolades acknowledge the excellence of a brand. This can be a valid reason for a company to distribute a press release, in the context of spotlighting its achievements.
For example, The Red Dot: Brands and Communications Design 2021 is a prestigious, international award that acknowledges brands for their leadership in product design, communication design, and design concepts. Designit issued a press release after winning an award. Given that awards have multiple categories, press releases such as Designit’s need to specify the categories won, as well as other key facts about how and why the firm clinched the award.
Organizers typically send out press releases weeks before an event, not just to raise awareness about the upcoming activity, but also to entice people to attend the event. Doing so can be important for public events, in which organizers need to generate a minimum amount of ticket sales to break even.
Like MIT Sloan’s announcement of its CFO summit, event press releases must lay out all the important details of an event – from dates to themes and more. For conferences, listing down the names of prestigious speakers who will be there can help to draw the audience in for registration via a link provided or website mentioned.
7. New Hires
Announcing new hires is a way to get to know your company better. Who works for you and their experiences illustrate your company’s or business’ values at work, and will also give your clients and audience an idea of who they are, their expertise, and what they bring to the table.
This press release is on point and concise, but still includes relevant quotes, visuals like photos, and newsworthy information about them.
This new hire PR from eBay shows us how it’s done: concise and straightforward, yet still has everything you need to know about him.
Quotes from the newly appointed CEO and the company’s board chairperson show how much they value good leadership, and bits about the new hire make the clients and audience understand why they can trust the company more.
8. New Business
Announcing a new business can be quite tricky when it comes to marketing it. However, it can be made easy with a press release. These press releases can not only include information about the business and its products, but also about the founders, their principles, and what drove them to pursue the business.
A well-written new business PR can bring the business closer to its consumers’ needs, such as this one for Apple TV+, Apple’s own streaming platform which brings together all your favorite channels in one. This PR included all the new platform’s features and assures its audience that this is the future of television.
9. Campaign Launches
Campaign launches are a unique way of letting your company’s clients and audience know that you are proactive in showing your values and what you advocate for. It can also be an effective storytelling tool on special occasions or on holidays, like Christmas or Valentine’s Day.
Take Coca-Cola’s summer campaign from 2019 for example, where they released a TV ad that shows how each sip of Coke brings back good memories.
The PR itself is concise and makes its consumers experience an immersive, evocative journey when they watch the ad.
10. Social Causes
A great way of showing that your brand or company also is active in your community and values is to create press releases that show your activity for social causes and advocacies, such as charity work, or programs for the underprivileged.
Ogilvy, one of the world’s leading marketing and advertising companies, shows its solidarity with small businesses in the US affected by economic challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They ran a press release showing the launch of Small Unites, an advocacy program rallying customers and communities across the US to support small businesses at the height of the pandemic.
Creating charity press releases shows that your company does not only work towards achieving its goals, but also makes sure it cares for its own community
11. Crisis Communications
When crises happen, brands and companies need to have strategies to be able to react to negative information quickly and effectively.
One should never neglect the risks of letting such a situation be left unaddressed; pretending nothing happened and hoping people forget the issue can sabotage the good standing of your brand.
Target, one of the retail giants in the US, experienced a data breach in 2014, causing chaos among their customers.
To assure their customers of their data safety and the company’s actions towards safeguarding them, the company published press releases updating customers during steps in the handling journey, such as this one updating its customers of their ongoing investigation.