How to write a press release: format, types and examples
Sharing the news is a cost-effective way to spread information about the company, products, or events and promote your brand. By using a press release for this purpose, you can make sure your message reaches the right audience. Press release is a great marketing and PR tool that allows your brand to get immediate exposure and strengthen communication with target customers.
Press releases let companies reduce expenses and deliver information faster as they are easy to write, publish and distribute. The types of occasions covered in a press release can include new product launches or updates, rebranding, mergers and acquisitions, awards, new promotions, and hires. A press release is an effective way to build and enhance brand image, increase sales by promoting new products and drive more traffic to the website. So, with this article, we want to dive deeper into what press releases are and how you can use them to communicate with your clients and partners. Let’s jump into it!
What is a press release?
Press release is a written document prepared by a press officer, public relations, or a marketing communications specialist and distributed to the media outlets, influencers, employees, prospects, or investors. The purpose of the publication is to provide information, make an official statement or announcement. Press releases are typically shorter than news stories and usually take up between 300 and 500 words. The document usually consists of nine primary components, including a headline, release date, introduction, body, and other elements, which we’ll discuss in more detail in the next section.
Publishing your press releases on the company website or external news outlets can improve search engine optimization, which, in turn, helps companies connect with target audiences, including investors, consumers, employees, and other stakeholders interested in the company and its products. The companies can add keywords and hyperlinks to digital press releases to optimize them for search engines.
Press release format
Like any other publication, a press release has formatting requirements and a basic structure. The components of the document depend on its type and purpose, your objectives, and the multimedia elements you are going to include. The standard parts that remain unchanged are logo, release date, contacts, headline, body, boilerplate, and attachments. Let us consider the essential press release components in more detail below.
By adding a logo to your press release, you have the opportunity to enhance your brand image. The logo is usually placed at the top of the page to grab the readers’ attention at once. Use a small full-color logo in your press release and attach the 200×200-pixel version of the picture to the email when sending the document. Thus, the media representatives will be able to add a high-resolution image to the article without losing quality.
Contact information usually contains the name, email address, phone number, and links to social media pages of the company, public relations specialist, or the person responsible for preparing the press release. The contact information is usually placed to the right of the logo or at the bottom of the document. It is critical to include clear links to contact info so journalists can get in touch with marketing or PR representatives to answer their questions.
Dateline or release date
The release date indicates either the date when the information was made public or when the company wants it to be released. Dateline usually refers to a geographic identifier — the city name followed by an abbreviation of a state or name of a country. Datelines are often placed at the introduction of the text before the first sentence of the publication.
Put the preferred release date in the top-left corner of the document. Add the text in bold and in capital letters to differentiate it from the rest of the document. For example, if you want the news published as soon as possible, add the note “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”. In the other case, when the story is scheduled for future or “embargoed” release, put the text “EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE” with the desired publication date and time in the upper left corner.
A press release headline is typically placed below the logo, contact details, and dateline at the top of the document. The headline should be clear and concise, typed in 14-point font, bold, and centered. Keep the headline between 65 and 80 characters long and use easy to understand language. The headline is one of the most crucial components of the document, so it should reflect the essence of a press release and communicate its core message. Pay attention to the main takeaway and make sure that the idea seems newsworthy to the reader.
A subheader is an optional element of a press release, but it gives you the opportunity to provide additional information that highlights the message. It allows readers to understand the content of the press release better. The purpose of the subheader is to impress the target audience or inform the readers about the essential details. The subheader works as a teaser that encourages further reading and expands the header with things worth mentioning.
Introduction or lead
The first paragraph of the press release is called introduction or lead. It usually answers six basic questions, including who, what, when, where, why, and how. The main aim of the lead is to provide a brief overview of the document that helps journalists understand whether the information will be relevant for the target audience. You can include the links in the introduction to increase traffic to your website.
The body is the core part of the press release. In this section, the author usually provides more details on the story. The body of the press release should explain why the announcement deserves attention. Start with a well-constructed opening sentence where you can paraphrase the headline. Then use small paragraphs containing two to four sentences. Finally, use statistics and graphics to back up the story. The length of the body should not exceed one page. If you are going to announce the event, it is also necessary to mention how the journalists can register or attend it for free.
The quote is an optional element that allows the writer to add more depth and provide a better picture and human perspective to the story. The quotes from credible sources associated with your company, such as customer testimonials, new employees’ or industry experts’ words, help demonstrate the importance of the event. The quotes should not repeat the text from the body but add value to your press release.
Interactive elements and multimedia
Interactive elements and multimedia are optional components that allow the journalists to explore your website and social media platforms and gather more information. The interactive elements usually include infographics, interactive images, social media usernames, and PDF files, such as case studies or reports.
Consider how you will promote the press release within your marketing mix. If you add branded hashtags, the media representatives will be able to track mentions of the company by influencers and read what the customers think about the products. Use embedded images and videos instead of attachments to make the press release more engaging. Include the links to the original assets in the email to allow readers to view the high-resolution images.
The last paragraph of the document is called boilerplate. This section is typically found at the bottom of a press release. Boilerplate contains information about your company, its position in the industry, awards, and a brief description, similar to the way you might present this information in the company one-pager. The final section should be no longer than 100 words, focusing only on the most critical facts. Add the link to your website and phone number or email of the person who can provide journalists with more details. Then put the final note containing the call to action at the bottom of the press release to encourage media representatives to contact you for further information.
We have listed the common ingredients of a successful press release. Now we will provide the guide that helps you get media coverage and evoke considerable interest from the audience.
How to write a press release?
A well-written press release generates curiosity, gives a positive impression, and captures the readers’ attention with the first sentence. Let us consider some rules and techniques to write an outstanding press release.
Keep in mind the target audience
The first step is to understand the requirements of the readers, whether businesses or customers. Research the media channels that are relevant to your industry and analyze the publications in these sources. Pay attention to the news that gets coverage. Your task is to find the newsworthy angle of the future publication. Think how the announcement will benefit the audience you are targeting. Remember that you are reaching out both to the journalists and the readers.
The journalists would be interested in exclusive data or research. The information should resonate with the audience and create an emotional connection. The method called newsjacking is often used to achieve this goal. It is the process of associating the brand with breaking news to get the attention of the media. Newsjacking can be pre-planned or based on predictable events in different areas, such as politics and sports.
Create the eye-catching headline
A headline is the first thing that the media representatives will pay attention to, so it should be noteworthy, timely, and intriguing. The length of the perfect headline should not exceed 70 characters. To write the attention-grabbing headline, make it comprehensive, use action verbs and express the ideas in a straightforward manner.
If you want to include the subheader, make sure that it does not repeat the headline. Instead, the subheader should expand the idea mentioned in the headline, but at the same time, it should motivate the readers to learn more. So, in the subheader, you can provide more details on the topic of your press release.
Make a compelling story
When writing the body of your press release, use the inverted pyramid formula. Start with the most crucial information answering the questions: Who? What? When? Where? How? Then proceed to the critical details. Finally, add the background facts and other general facts.
Try to include different points of view and quotes from key stakeholders, including the executives, project leads, and other authorities. The journalists will use quotes to emphasize the most crucial aspects of your announcement.
Provide details to add credibility
Include at least two photographs to illustrate the narrative. Note that the announcement should be concise, providing only valuable data to strengthen or prove the story. Make sure that the additional information is relevant to your audience.
Present the company at boilerplate
A boilerplate is a place where the journalists can find plain facts about your company, such as marketing goals, business objectives, mission and purpose, products and services, customers, and awards. This section should clearly explain the company’s activities and serve as your business card.
Before writing a boilerplate, you need to identify the size of your business in terms of revenue, the number of employees and global presence, the areas it covers, main competencies, and the industries the company operates in. Consider major initiatives and developments, think of innovative products and industry awards.
These steps will help you define the focus areas and make the story newsworthy for the journalists.
Press release types with examples
We will cover five common types of press releases with examples and describe their formats and rules.
General news release
General news is one of the most traditional types of press releases. The purpose of the general news release is to generate coverage in online and offline media and get exposure. The main criterion for this press release type is newsworthiness. The story should be attractive enough for the audience to get published. The company can issue a general news press release if it wins the contest, receives the award, or has certain news about the organization or people.
A perfect example of a general news press release is the publication by Happsy, an organic mattress brand. The company issued a press release to announce its launch. It should be noted that the brand found the angle that allows for communicating the message to a variety of different audiences. By using such words as “everyone”, Happsy creates a connection both with journalists and consumers. Besides, the company emphasized the benefits of the products, such as premium materials and environmental compliance.
Event press release
The event press release informs the media representatives and customers about the upcoming events hosted by an organization. This press release typically contains information about the place, key speakers, and the event’s topic. The event press release aims to get coverage of the details in the media to notify the customers about the event. The most suitable format for an event press release is a list with bullet points or an outline as it helps perceive and memorize information better.
Heinz issued the event press release dedicated to the contest called “Art of the Burger” with the prize of $25,000, the opportunity to try test burgers for free and unlimited seasonings for life. The advantage of this press release is the funny tone of voice, simple language, and intriguing title announcing the search for “Head Burger Artist”.
Product press release
A product press release usually describes unique characteristics and features of the product, availability, and pricing. The purpose of the product press release is to announce the launch of a new product or service to capture the attention of the journalists and target customers. That’s why a well-written product press release often determines the success in finding the product-market fit and sales results.
Product press release by Chevrolet contains only three sentences, but the embedded multimedia, such as image and video, makes it interactive and engaging. The video presentation is very informative and provides more details than a traditional written press release.
New hire press release
This type of press release announces the latest addition to the team or promotion, usually in C-level and other executive positions. The publication usually contains extensive biographical details and a photo. Specifically, new hire press releases often describe the person’s function in the company, work experience, previous position, and responsibilities.
In the new hire press release, eBay reported about the new chief executive officer, Jamie Iannone. In the first paragraph, the company notes that Mr. Iannone previously occupied the position of Chief Operating Officer of Walmart eCommerce. This evokes interest in the story and makes it newsworthy, as the journalists can describe Jamie Iannone’s successful career and expertise.
Partnership press release
Partnership press releases describe the reasons the companies partnered, the rules for cooperation, the benefits for both companies and their customers, and the actions resulting from the collaboration. This press release also communicates how the partnership affects industry and community.
An excellent example of the partnership press release is the publication by Kohl. The company outlined the essential information in the first two sentences and used several quotes to provide additional details and description of the partner company, Land’s End. The fact-based announcement contains only vital information and avoids self-promotion.
The key to a successful press release is a newsworthy angle of the story. If you can present the news in that light, you will definitely get attention and media coverage. So, make a fact-based concise publication, create an intriguing headline, find fascinating details worth mentioning, and you will reach your goal.
Originally published at Awware: “How to write a press release: format, types and examples”.