A well-crafted press release can travel far and wide. Not only does this increase brand awareness, but it also adds credibility to your brand. Your press release is the jump-off point where you can ultimately create a lasting impression and relationship with your leads. A well-written one can trigger more article production for your brand and products, which could drive more potential buyers who are asking about your offers. While press releases are cost-effective, writing them may entail a tedious process- that is, if you don’t know how to write them.
This article is a beginner’s guide to writing a press release. You’re going to learn how to write a great press release. You will also understand the steps of writing them and some tips on how to incorporate SEO into your copy as well as making your content more relevant.
What Is a Press Release?
Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of press releases. You might think it’s not rocket science to write them. The truth is, press releases have specific parts, so it’s crucial for beginners to understand these to create compelling PR pieces.
Press releases are primarily created to improve brand awareness, whether these pieces promote products and events or announce acquisitions or new hires. While this type of content may vary in purpose, all press releases have three things in common:
- Aims to invoke the interest of journalists and news outlets
- Aims to provide information
- Are planned statements made with a patterned formula
Small businesses create their press releases and pitch them to newswires or websites that distribute these releases in the hopes that bloggers, online influencers, or journalists would take notice and feature the product on their websites and social media platforms. The broader the scope of distribution of the press release, the longer the brand impression stays with the public. You can also use press releases as part of your email marketing.
What Are the Benefits of a Press Release
With so many platforms to be seen and heard online, one might think a press release can be outdated. But this isn’t so. The benefits outweigh the demanding process that goes with writing a press release. Here are the top reasons why write a press release.
- A cost-effective way of disseminating information
Your one press release goes a long way since it’s distributed over a network.
- A broader scope of audience
When a journalist writes about your PR on his blog, your PR gets read by his followers.
- Higher probability of getting noticed
Media outlets have thousands to millions subscribing to them. A small fraction of that number still increases your brand recognition.
- Backlinks from reliable sources
Your website can garner backlinks from reputable sources through your press releases
- An increase in brand credibility
The mere fact that media outlets share your PR means they trust your brand- and so does their audience.
- Possible higher rankings on search engines
When popular media outlets feature your brand through your press release, and you added backlinks to your site, chances are, more people are going to visit your site, leading to higher search engine rankings. Also, including links to your emailed press release redirects the readers back to your website.
Elements of a Press Release (Parts of a Press Release)
Like any piece of writing, a press release has several parts. Understanding the right sequence and how each element complements all other parts makes or breaks the beauty of press releases. If your goal is to get the attention of your readers, know what to include when writing a successful press release.
One of the tips for writing a press release is never to forget adding the release date, especially if you plan to send your press release to newswires and media outlets. Release dates are vital when planning to make the press release publicly known.
- For Immediate Release – when media outlets should publish the press release immediately
- Embargoed Until [Date] – to indicate that the media is prohibited from posting the release before the stated date.
What is Media Embargo?
You indicate a media embargo when you don’t want the press release to be available to the public until the date you indicated. This tactic allows you to have the perfect timing before the big reveal. A media embargo also gives the media outlets ample time to write in-depth and gather information about your product. You can use this feature if you are launching a product or announcing a new hire for your company.
Considered the headline of the press release, the title must contain the main topic of your press release. It should also attract the interest of your readers so they would read some more.
Tip: Make sure to bolden your headline.
The subheading is another element that should spark the interest of your readers. This element contains more details compared to the release title. It should have a maximum of 350 characters. This part should direct your readers to the body of your press release.
Tip: Make sure to italicize your subheading.
The dateline contains the date and place of the news. The majority of the writers follow the AP (Associated Press) Style Guide. Here is a cheat sheet for this part.
The body consists of several paragraphs that contain the nitty-gritty of your press releases. This section is where you get into the details. The five Ws of journalism should be effectively used here. To make your press release more compelling, you should use images, quotes, and links.
The body should have three parts. The teaser should come after the dateline. As its name connotes, the teaser will hook the readers to seek more information. The intro gives more details about the release. This part covers major points of the press release. Lastly, the main paragraph includes some more details that have not been included in the intro section. This part contains background information about a product or new hire.
The boilerplate is the section where you can introduce your company in 100 words or less. You can include the following:
- Link to your website
- Products and services offered
- Your company tagline
Hyperlinks allow you to create and nurture your leads and customers. With just a click of the computer mouse, your leads are redirected to your site and other relevant sites.
For credibility and emotional appeal, add quotes to your press release. Add a brief statement from a key person to liven up your copy. This section would be particularly helpful if you are making a press release for a new hire.
To make your press release more attractive, incorporate some kind of visual flair to an otherwise dull set of texts. For your press release to stand out, avoid using stock images. If you are writing a press release for a book, you can add its book cover to your copy. The right keyword tag would bring your message to the right audience.
The end notation signals the reader that your press release has ended. Use –MORE– on the current page if there’s a subsequent page. Use ### to signal the end of the release.
This section should contain your name, title, email address, and phone number in case a lead or reporter wants to communicate with you.
What Is the Inverted Pyramid Format?
The inverted pyramid format is useful when the reader often scans the content. Most web content utilizes this style so readers can easily distinguish which is more interesting to read or not.
The inverted pyramid format is divided into three. The topmost portion has the essential facts. It includes the 5Ws: Why What, Where, When and Who of the report. The second section contains the quotes and other pertinent information in descending order. Lastly, the third portion includes the boilerplate, the contact information, and other relevant facts.
Here’s Your Beginner’s Guide to Writing a Press Release
Before you start writing a press release template, make sure that you know the basics of writing one. Here are some guidelines to help you on your journey.
Before You Write
You just don’t start writing a press release right then and there. You plan it. This section discusses the preparations prior to actually writing your PR.
Make sure you use plain language
Writing in plain English simply makes sense since this language quickly gets the message across. It’s easy to understand and avoids unnecessary words. The brevity of plain English allows you to avoid relaying confusion. Plus, plain English is very much relatable.
Use short sentences that convey single ideas. Your paragraphs should be no more than five sentences each. Industry jargon must be avoided as industry insiders can only understand this. You can learn more about plain language here.
Make sure you have the complete details
Make sure that all the information you include in the press release has enough details. To back up your press release, you have to add statistics to make the former more credible. Also, your contact information should not be left out on your press release.
There should be a complete description of your story
Your content should give enough information to keep your readers glued but not too much as to provide them with the entire story. Leave that part to the media so they would follow you up on additional information. Keep your press release under two pages. Ideally, it should be one page with less than 500 words. Your content should answer the 5Ws of journalism for a thorough description of your press release.
Aside from the 5 W’s of journalism, your content should be clear, concise, and convincing. Avoid fluff and bizspeak vocabulary, create shorter sentences, and make sure that you have credible data and on-spot quotes to back your claims. Also, make sure that your body paragraphs contain supporting details.
Set the tone
Your tone should be similar to that of a newspaper article, not too formal nor too casual. Use objective and straightforward language and highlights factual information. Your release ought to be somewhere between academic and editorial. Your press releases should be in the third person. By that, avoid words such as “I”, “we” and “you”.
Tell a story
When writing your press release, avoid industrial jargon and acronyms that people won’t understand. Your press release should have a broad appeal. Stick to concise and easy-to-understand wordings. Your press release should convey a story, so write one as if you are writing a story. If you want to use industry jargon, put them in quotes. Your content should also align with the products and services you have.
Your content must be insightful and interesting
Is your content newsworthy? Is it relevant? Is it shareable? What did you add to make the content engaging? Is the press release trying to answer something? Your content should be the catalyst for engagement and nurture more actions. Your copy should have an exciting headline and a compelling body.
Consistency is the key
Whenever you write, be aware of mix-matching two ways of writing. Be consistent in your writing style. For example, you can either write third quarter or Q3. Choose only one of the two but not both techniques. This way, you maximize your use of these keywords for your SEO.
Generally speaking, SEO isn’t necessary for a press release, but if you need to apply SEO when submitting your press release to online PR distribution services or newswires.
Keep a Keyword Portfolio
Your target audience is as vital as your press release itself. How much your audience knows your company, what products you offer, and what language they understand are a few factors worth considering. You must use words that are relevant to your target audience. Your keyword list must associate with your audience and the message you want to impart, so your copy is more likely to be found by more people.
A problem arises when you have a lot of subscribers that have different sets of vocabulary relevant to them. The solution is to segment your audience into different groups and write a unique announcement for each of them.
Add keywords toward the first part of your press release
Place your keywords early in your content but never overstuff the content with them. Your first sentence should contain the main keyword. Also, it’s ideal to have main keywords on your headline and subheadings, but take note, and these should only be added when the keywords contribute to the entire story. As you move along the article, scatter the keywords here and there but make sure that the press release still sounds natural.
Strategically place keywords across the press release keyword placement
Be careful not to go overboard with links and keywords. To reiterate, make sure that your main keyword can be found in the main title, alt tags of images, and the first paragraph of the body. But only do so when it contributes to the entirety of the press release. For every 500 words, there should only be a maximum of 3 links. That means for one press release, you can only have only up to 3 backlinks. Ideally, you should use your primary keyword as the anchor text for your first link.
Include keywords that are relatable to your readers
Create a keyword list that is relevant to your target audience and the press release. Your keywords must be able to connect with your readers. Your purpose, after all, is to engage them. Utilize long-tail keywords as these are for precise searches. Since these keywords are more specific, these return more targeted results, hence more relevance to whoever reads your press release.
Write as if each word has a price
Write as if every word has a cost. That way, you value each of them and try to avoid fluff at all times.
Use the Autocomplete Feature
The Autocomplete gives related word suggestions to the word you type in the search box. This feature is a highly useful tool to pull out keywords that are popular to users who might also be searching for similar keywords as yours.
Put your main keywords in the first 100 words
Focus on long-tail keywords for these often have lower competition but high performing. When you already have your complete keyword list, make sure that you insert some of them between the first 100 words.
Headlines are the attention grabbers of your press release. These determine what makes a reader continue scanning your press release or just drop your copy and move on to the next press release. Here are some tips on headlines:
Your headline should be under ten words
Your headline should not exceed ten words. Focus on the news angle so you can make it under ten words. Focus on innovation, disruption, impact, and being first. If your press release is for the local press, make sure you include the location in the headline
You can use this headline analyzer to check if your headline would work. Your headlines should avoid:
- Blog style headlines
- Brand Names
Use short headlines
Your title must not exceed 55 characters, nor must be shorter than 25 characters. You need to brainstorm several headlines you can use for the press release and then choose the most suitable one.
Use the Imperative Tone to Set the Mood of Your Press Release
You urge your subscribers and readers to check the press release further by using urgent words in the first few lines of the release. Also, imperative wording placed on the early parts of the announcement optimizes your copy for search engines.
About the Body
The body paragraphs of the press release hold all the minute details. The first paragraph contains the essential facts. Typically, a press release contains just three body paragraphs. Here are some more tips you need to know.
The importance of the first sentence
Your first sentence must be your top line or the most crucial part of the release. Think of it as the summary with less than 20 words. The first paragraph or your lead contains the essential details of your press release. Cut to the chase and make the first sentence your description.
It should answer the question, “So, what?” There should be a reason or impact- and the question should answer that. For example, instead of Company A Collaborates with Company B, try having this: Company A Collaborates with Company B to [indicate impact/reason].
In your first sentence, you must create some sort of response from your readers, whether that is impactful, a different perspective on opinion, a progression of events, or emotional reaction. Always employ the 5ws here. For example, [WHO: Company A] announces it will [WHAT: begin collaborating] with [Company B] at [WHERE: X Studio] starting [WHEN: DATE]. [WHY: This partnership will provide tents for the homeless.]
What to include in your lead:
- Findings of a study
- New product
- Announcement of an event
- Relevant statistics
The earlier, the better
Don’t keep the suspense till the end. One of the steps to writing a press release is to make sure that the most important facts should be placed at the beginning of your body. Don’t bury the news under lots of words and paragraphs.
As seen in the inverted pyramid, essential facts must be in the top part of your release. There must be a hook to keep the readers interested, the use of 5Ws is of utmost importance and the reason why the news outlet should care. This recent press release from 3M gives you all the three criteria for effective information dissemination.
Short sentences are your better options
Format your content as if you are writing for skimmers and scanners. That being said, write like you are writing a newspaper article. Short sentences are easy to digest.
Use declarative sentences
Declarative sentences sound professional and tweetable. Industry jargon can make the content sound cold
Don’t fill your content with filler words
Minimize your use of filler words.
Avoid fluff at all times. Not only would this make your content look unprofessional, but fluff can also be the reason why reporters pass on your press release.
Grammar should be on point whenever you are writing press releases or any other content for that matter. Here are some tips you need to take note of when writing press releases.
Avoid Over-the-Top Superlatives
While press releases are marketing tools, the way to write effective press releases is to avoid superlatives that tell you are the best or one-of-a-kind. You can only add such claims if you can back these up with data.
Avoid Hype Words
Hype words such as prestigious and leading should also be avoided as these words decrease your credibility. You should minimize the use of adjectives, especially the ones often used in promotional writing.
All caps test
Traditionally, all letters of the press release headlines are in all caps. But, nowadays, this is frowned upon when writing online press releases. Follow grammar capitalization rules where you only capitalize the first letter of the sentence or proper nouns.
Don’t overstuff your content with keywords
Don’t add too many keywords into your content. When readers realize you stuffed your content with keywords, they may not like it, and they may think you deceived them to read your press release.
To have a better understanding of the steps to writing a press release, remember the Five W’s of journalistic writing:
- What: What’s newsworthy about this story?
- When: When did it happen?
Include the time. If possible, add the beginning and end of the time. Also, you include the place (where) in your dateline but leave the minute details to your press release body.
- Where: Where did this happen
Include the complete address. If you may include the directions, add them as well.
- Who: Who are the involved key players in the story?
You must include the appellation or title of the person. Spell it out when the “Who” is an abbreviation of an organization.
Why: Why are you writing this? What is this important?
You should give reasons why this is worth your reader’s time
Have you edited your content well?
Always follow proper grammar rules. If your content is sloppy and full of grammatical errors, editors would just throw it into the rejection pile together with other poorly written press releases. While there is no norm about the kind of font to use, it’s best to stick with standard fonts such as Arial or Times New Roman.
Quotes are used to provide insight and adds a human touch to your press releases.
Your quotes should be sincere and authentic.
When you’re citing your quotes, make sure that they are relevant to your copy. Is it sincere? Does it serve a purpose? Does it support the entire press release? Did you include attribution? Your quotes should come from one to two important stakeholders. Their quotes should talk about the news contained in the press release. Also, include supporting details for your quotes.
Your sources must be quoted
Your sources must be cited, so your press release not only looks but also sounds professional. When you introduce your sources, use their full name and position before the actual quote. Make sure you use open and closed quotation marks.
Visual content like images, videos, and infographics are SEO necessities. Images are processed a lot faster than text. Choosing the right kind of image to include can either make or break your press release.
When You Should Use an Image
Your visual content should work for you. That being said, it should capture your intent and grab your readers’ attention. Use infographics, relevant photos, and logos to get the message across.
You must use your main keyword as your image metatext. This will help your press release become more optimized for SEO.
Use a standard image type
Your images should be a standard image format commonly used for the web. Use the JPEG format for larger images, although you might lose some quality. On the other hand, use PNG if you want better image quality. PNG comes in larger file sizes.
Customize the file name of your images
Keyword-rich file names are essential when you correlate this to SEO. A customized file name for your images works more efficiently for SEO compared to a generic file name. Make sure you’re utilizing the main keyword as part of the file name; however, the file name should be relevant to the image.
Take note of the dimensions of your images
The ideal image should be at least 60×90 pixels. Having these dimensions would help you rank better in Google as well as provide a better user experience.
Links provide information and value to the reader. Not only do links give relevant information, but these also enhance the user experience when reading your press releases. Here are some best practices when including links to your press release.
Limit your number of links
You must use links sparingly. If you have more than three, it reduces your click-through rates.
Make sure to use quality links aside from backlinks to your site. Use the primary keyword as the anchor text when linking to a target webpage.
Types of Press Releases
As noted in the earlier section of this guide, there are many kinds of press releases. Here are the typical types of press releases you’d encounter.
Product and Service Launch Press Release
This is the type of press release when the company has a new service or product to launch. When writing a press release for an event or a product launch, make sure you pitch before the product launch as a trigger to start the product hype.
What You Should Cover
- Product Name
- Technical Specifications
- New Features and Improvements
- Main Selling Points
- Images Highlighting the new design
Example of a Product Press Release: Apple iPhone SE
A company announces an executive appointment press release when there is a change at the top leadership. Often, the press release includes the job history, work accomplishments of the appointee, among others. Executive appointments are announced because these can be credibility boosts for the company, especially when the appointee came from a competitor.
What You Should Cover
- Name of the company
- Year of appointment
- Image of the appointee
- Title of the job
- Name and title of the new appointee
- Name of the replaced executive
- Past employers of the new appointee
- Quote from the new appointee
- Job description and responsibilities of the new appointee
Example of an Executive Appointment Press Release: Verizon Media
This press release aims to announce the new partnership between two companies. This press release should cover the audience of each company. This announcement should also include the reasons why the acquisition occurred.
What You Should Cover
- Names of the two companies
- Current year
- Name of the Industry
- Quotes from the two parties
- Products offered by both companies
- Date of acquisition
Example of an Acquisitions Press Release: PepsiCo
Common Mistakes in Writing Press Releases
Your PR is too long
The press release should be brief and on point. Remove the fluff and cut the chase. However, your press release shouldn’t be too short, either. Your press release should entice your readers with enough details to leave them wanting more.
You are targeting the wrong audience
Small businesses should also focus on getting local companies. While it’s still possible to pitch to larger news outlets, chances are, your story won’t get noticed as they are more concerned about national issues. Also, pitching to the wrong reporter won’t get you coverage.
Your story is too promotional
The main reason why reporters hook to your press release is they find it newsworthy. If your content is too promotional, they might think twice using it. Make sure that you have the right angle and relevant data to support your release
You didn’t include a contact information
If journalists find your piece newsworthy, they would like to contact you for more details. Without the contact information, writing the press release becomes futile.
The title is irrelevant to the body paragraphs
Your headline and subheadings are your hooks. These must be interesting enough to catch the attention of your reader. Avoid using cliches. Use witty expressions.
Press Release Checklist
Before you send your press release, make sure you have double-checked this for errors: Here’s a checklist you can work with:
- Did you add the correct release date?
- Is it for immediate release?
- Is it Embargoed?
- Is the date correct?
- Is the placement of the contact information correct?
- Did you add the following?
- Phone Number
- Are the pertinent facts included in the top paragraph?
- Is the boilerplate at the bottom?
- Did you check the grammar and spelling?
- Did you add the end of the press release sign (# sign)
How Press Releases Work
Press releases are often distributed via newswires. But large companies often hire PR professionals to do the job. However, small businesses usually pitch their PRs to news outlets, journalists, and newswires themselves, the latter being the most common mode of press release distribution. Newswires disseminate press releases on a larger scale and, similarly, PR professionals search newswires for fresh content and new products to feature.
Take time to learn how writing a press release goes. While this task seems to give you a lot of work, mastering this would greatly help your online marketing efforts. Should you need help with your SEO, we at ITD Web Design are here to help you. Give us a call and we can discuss it.