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How to Write a Press Release in 11 Steps

by | May 7, 2018 | Content Marketing

How to Write a Press Release in 11 Steps

by | May 7, 2018 | Content Marketing

Press releases are an important part of any digital marketing strategy. From announcing new products to introducing a partnership with a community organization, they are the ideal way to share with the world the good things your company is doing.

Using a press release example is an easy way to create a press release, but the problem is that press release samples are hard to come by that match your specific needs. Press releases have a specific structure and are difficult to write, which is why many companies outsource them to experts. You can simplify the process and cut costs if you learn the basic elements of writing your own.

There is a basic formula that every press release follows, which gives constraints on your writing that help structure the information. While the formula should be followed, the creativity and taste come with word choice, sentence structure and credible information.

1. Choose the Correct Language

Some releases are rushed and announce information that needs to get out right away. In this case, the words “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” should be placed at the top of the release. You can also write a release early for a future event, just make sure to designate the date and instead use the words “HOLD RELEASE UNTIL” at the top of the document.

You want to control when your press release hits the media and the public, and this is the best way to do that. Choosing a specified date allows you to tell journalists and readers when you are ready for the information to print or released. When you share a press release can greatly affect the success of your campaign.

2. Stay Consistent With Company Colors and Logo

You’ve worked so hard to create a brand and logo that customers associate with your products, and now is one of the times you should use it. Branding is critical in a press release, and your company’s colors and logo should always be present in the headline section. For example, check out this press release example from the Utah Jazz:

Some releases are rushed and announce information that needs to get out right away. In this case, the words “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” should be placed at the top of the release. You can also write a release early for a future event, just make sure to designate the date and instead use the words “HOLD RELEASE UNTIL” at the top of the document.

You want to control when your press release hits the media and the public, and this is the best way to do that. Choosing a specified date allows you to tell journalists and readers when you are ready for the information to print or released. When you share a press release can greatly affect the success of your campaign.

The organization starts the release with their logo and colors, ensuring that readers know exactly who is sharing the information.

3. Keywords, Keywords, Keywords

Before you write your release, you should have keywords chosen to target your audience. Keywords are vital to making your release accessible and ranking higher with search engines. They can also help the media and readers better understand the subject and content of the press release.  Don’t overdo it; keywords should be placed naturally throughout the content rather than stuffed in unnatural places.

When it comes to the headline, you should be using Title Case. This means that any word in your headline that has four or more letters should be capitalized, unless it is a preposition (for, on, after). See the picture below from Dick’s Sporting Goods for a good example of using title case in your release:

Some releases are rushed and announce information that needs to get out right away. In this case, the words “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” should be placed at the top of the release. You can also write a release early for a future event, just make sure to designate the date and instead use the words “HOLD RELEASE UNTIL” at the top of the document.

You want to control when your press release hits the media and the public, and this is the best way to do that. Choosing a specified date allows you to tell journalists and readers when you are ready for the information to print or released. When you share a press release can greatly affect the success of your campaign.

Headlines should be under 160 characters with spaces, so readers can quickly skim what the announcement is about and determine if they want to read.

4. Include a Strong Summary Paragraph

The first paragraph in a press releases is the summary paragraph. This paragraph has a few important functions and guidelines:

  • No longer than five sentences
  • Give the reader a summary of the information in the press release
  • Draw the readers attention to read the release
  • Attract the attention of journalists skimming through many press releases
  • Include bullet points at the top to draw additional attention
  • Add the most exciting and relevant information along with the key points

When readers find value in a press release immediately after they start reading, they are likely to continue.

5. Important Information to Include

Press releases can be spread throughout the world, but they should always be tied to a specific location. That means every press release needs the month, day, year, city and state. Local information is necessary to give the readers the date and time of your release and put the information in context. See the example below from Sephora:

6. Writing the First Paragraph

As with any piece of content, the first paragraph works as the lead of the release and should include six elements: who, what, why, when, where and how.

  • Who: who are the main players, who is the company and who is the release about?
  • What: what’s your topic and why do readers care about it?
  • Why: why did you choose this time to send out a press release and how will it affect the readers?
  • When: when is the new hire, the product release or the other event taking place?
  • Where: where is the event being held or where is your company?
  • How: does your release help your readers and provide a valuable experience, and how? 

If readers can pick out these elements from the first paragraph of a press release, they are better able to understand the overall message of the press release. The press release from Sephora above also does a good job in the first paragraph to address these six important elements.

7. The Body of the Press Release

The content in the release’s first paragraph should be expanded throughout the body of the release. Limit paragraphs to three or four sentences and make sure they are cohesive. Although there should be a clean break between information in each paragraph, the previous one should flow seamlessly into the next.

The body is your chance to share the exciting things that are happening – advances the organization has made, a new discovery, a new hire or a new product. If you have quotes, this is the time to use them. They lend credibility to your press release and give readers an objective view from an expert.

8. Your Concluding Paragraph

In all reality, press releases are just like any type of content. Your goal is to catch the attention of the reader from the beginning, provide relevant, credible, interesting information in the body and then wrap it all up with a compelling conclusion. Your conclusion is what would be your closing remarks if you were giving a speech. This is also the place to put any necessary information the didn’t fit in the body of the release.

The concluding paragraph gives your reader a continuity to the next step. It could be something as simple as contacting a new supervisor or trying out a new product. It’s a great place to put expert opinions and quotes that motivate the reader to learn more about what you are announcing. The following example of a title and concluding paragraph from McDonald’s shows how a concluding paragraph shows why the company is hosting the All American Games:

9. Boilerplate Information About the Company

The boilerplate should be a brief summary of information about the company. Include achievements and merits here but it shouldn’t sound as if you are trying to promote or sell the company. This information allows journalists to put content into context for the readers. It also makes your company sound more professional and recognizable.

10. Contact Information

As the press release is the way to attract customers and media attention, the press release should have information about how to contact you. Always ensure that your contact information is up to date and current. Include at least a few of the following things:

  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Link to company’s social profiles
  • Link to company’s website

This example from Target shows you how a larger company may choose to share their contact information.

If readers can’t get ahold of you after reading a press release, then you’ve wasted your time.

11. Finish it Up

Every press release should wind up with the symbols ### or the word END. This informs readers that the release is completed and there is nothing more to read. This is a simple part of writing a press release, but not one you want to forget.

Additional Tips for How to Write a Press Release

Now you have the formula and the structure of press releases, but the key to writing a great one comes in the writing, the distribution and the optimization. If you want to stand out above the rest and draw the attention of the media and your reader, we have a few tips to help.

  • Writing Tips
    • Write to the reader, but in third person.
    • Always use a professional voice but try to place yourself in the reader’s shoes.
    • Optimal releases are between 400-500 words and no longer than one page.
    • Get right to the point and avoid inefficient communication and jargon.
    • Limit adjectives as they are often difficult to read and distracting.
    • Write objectively and remember you are giving information rather than selling something.
    • Always proofread and edit; a simple typo can cancel any credibility you have.
  • Distribution Tips
    • As well as syndicating for SEO purposes, try contacting local media outlets to share your release for better traction and return on investment.
    • After sending out your release, always follow up with the outlet by email or phone to offer a personal touch and help a journalist remember you.
    • Use a distribution service like Cision (PRWeb) to get maximum exposure.
  • Optimization Tips
    • Don’t stuff keywords as it makes the content seems dense and spammy, which quickly turns readers off.
    • Use relevant keywords sparingly and naturally so readers can easily find your content when searching.
    • Use images or videos to enhance a press release but remember that the overall focus should be on the text.

At the beginning, press releases can seem overwhelming. The fact that they are so important to your company may seem intimidating to the average writer. The reality is that if you follow the formula and allow for a little bit of creativity and detail to be added to your sentences, you may find that writing your own releases is fun and simple.

If you need a press release but don’t want to have to write it yourself, let us take care of it for you! Check out our press release writing services.

Katie Price

Katie Price’s favorite things to do are read, shop and take naps. She started as a writer for BKA Content in 2012 and is now an Account Manager/Writer Advocate/Community Culture Specialist. She has four kids and a loving husband who put up with her crazy on a daily basis, and she loves learning more about the content industry.

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