Thanks to social media, it’s not necessarily a pain in the ass anymore to get information about a new product or a jazzy event in front of reporters.
That doesn’t mean you should still skimp out on sending formal press releases. They’re a good marketing tool to send to news outlets, whether you’re a startup looking to expand brand awareness or you’re a seasoned small (or large) business.
There’s an important style to press releases, whether you’re sending information to news outlets about a product launch or upcoming event. Don’t believe us? Keep reading to find out how to write a press release.
The Anatomy of a Press Release
Before we dive into the immense potential of press releases, let’s start with the basics.
A good press release is a concise, written communication designed for distribution to the media and the public. Its primary purpose is to announce newsworthy events, developments, or information about your business, organization, or even your own personal achievements if you’re kind of a big deal.
You want to answer the five Ws (who, what, where, why, when), but there’s also a little more nuance than slapping some words on the page.
At the very tippy top of your press release, you’ll want to put your contact information. Get it out of the way, so reporters see it if they have questions. This should have a name of who to contact, along with a phone number and email address.
You’ll want a headline that snags media attention, but it’s got to be relevant to the point you’re trying to make. Keep it in a bold font, slightly larger than the rest of the text in the press release. You also don’t want it too long – cap it at 125 characters.
Introduced by a dateline (the city/state) in bold followed by a dash or colon, this will describe your whole reason for the press release. The first paragraph is where you’ll hit the reporter over the head with the most important information. The rest of the press release will have other information throughout its short body. Remember those five Ws? This is where they go.
This is where the background information of your announcement goes. You’ll include a brief explanation that backs up the first paragraph. Add a call to action like “check out our website” or “buy our product at the store today!”, but obviously be more specific.
This is the very bottom paragraph about your business. Keep it short at 4-5 sentences. It should be either slightly lighter in color or the font should be a tiny bit smaller than the rest of the press release.
What’s a News Release, Then?
So glad you’re asking. A press release promotes an event, product, or brand. A news release, on the other hand, is full of facts.
Think of it this way: a press release will go out to newsrooms to promote something. A news release has facts about an event that recently happened or will happen.
Let’s say your brand makes cell phone covers and you want to announce a new product launch of a waterproof cover. That’s a press release.
Now, if your cell phone cover was used in some elaborate ATF case and helped investigators crack some code, that would be a news release.
Keeping Your Company Name in Tact
An incredibly important part of public relations is crisis communications.
Even though times are always changing, one constant you can always count on with media is if something salacious or scandalous happens, it’s going to be in the news. But let’s be honest for a second – when it’s not you in the news, what’s the stuff you like? The messy news stories.
Don’t become a messy news story. If you do, have some crisis communications ready to go as part of your public relations strategy.
In your press release, you’ll want to clarify any conflict and be upfront with what happened. Of course, you’ll have to talk with your lawyers and keep stakeholders informed, but this is still a great practice.
If you write a press release and want to really increase exposure whether it’s media coverage or ensuring you hit your target audience, incorporate search engine optimization (SEO).
This means when your press release is sent to a newswire – a press release distribution service with subscribers – and then posted to Google and other search engines, use specific keywords in your headline and throughout the text. Google especially looks for content that’s not only well-written but has factual content.
Help Your Release Get Exposure
Reporters sometimes have insane deadlines and breaking news. We’re going to tell you how to make friends with them – or at least help them do their job.
Part of media relations is playing nicely together. You want your story in the news, then make it so the reporter basically copies and pastes your press release. How do you do this?
- Use short, concise sentences.
- Have a catchy, newsworthy angle in the press release.
- Don’t attach the press release as a PDF. In fact, don’t attach anything. Slap the release in the body of the email.
- Try to include two sources or quotes. Have fun with this part. Add a quote from a stakeholder and a relevant statistic from a credible source.
- Send your press release to the right media outlets, where your target audience and potential customers get their news.
Reporters like statistics from reputable sources. That means if your stakeholder was quoted on a podcast or websites that are government and educational entities, include it
Looking at a Real Press Release
You can repurpose press releases for content marketing purposes. Add them to your website either as a blog or if you have a page that’s “In the News,” put it there.
A great press release example is from Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods. They limit their press releases throughout the year, and each fall they hold a huge customer appreciation sale.
In the first sentence, the Who (Baird Brothers), What (Red, White & True sale), Where (online and on-site), Why (sales/celebration), and When (Sept. 29 through Oct. 1) are all answered.
Then, there are: background information, two direct quotes from sources, and where to find Baird Brothers on social media platforms.
Elevate Your Press Release Approach
Now you have a better understanding of the importance of press releases. This is a cost-effective way to add some dimension to your digital marketing campaign, and frankly, it should be.
Do you still want a little help deciphering what’s “newsworthy”? Give us, the professionals at Lift Marketing, a call and we’ll get started on your personalized media relations plan.