In this article, the goals, process, and outcomes of press releases will be discussed. It will outline the steps that need to be taken to have a good press release:
1. Identifying a story that is deemed newsworthy
2. Instructions on how to format and write press releases
3. How to ensure the release gets read
According to the CoSchedule blog, there are five common goals a press release can accomplish:
1. Gain media coverage→ for when there is a new update, product, or development in an organization
2. Make the brand more reputable→ help build brand image on a larger platform
3. Crisis management→ share the story first if something goes wrong
4. Have more support when releasing new material→ “This could be when you publish a new e-book, report or blog and you want a reputable source to link back to the information.”
5. A cheap marketing strategy→ receive more public attention because of news coverage
Newsworthy Story Identification:
Press releases should be sent whenever there is anything newsworthy. “Newsworthy” material falls into the following categories:
1. Breaking news
2. Product launches
5. Sharing research
7. Hiring new executives
8. Crisis management
Although all of these categories allow news to potentially be press release worthy, it is very important to keep the audience in mind. What would your audience care about? What is worth publishing?
Every press release should include a couple of the same elements that demonstrates legitimacy. These elements include:
2. Press contact
3. City, state, location
4. Body copy→ the content of the message should be ordered by level of importance
5. Organization’s mission
There are no definite ways to format a press release, but it is important there is consistency and readability in the document. Attached below is an explanation of how press releases should be formatted according to Coschedule:
Writing the Press Release
Now that there is an understanding of why and how to write a press release, the actual content must be formed. This can be a daunting task, but there are ways to make it easier. CoSchedule provides the following tips for the actual writing of the blog:
1. Think like a journalist→ the writing should be clear, short, direct, and the information must be easy to find. Readers will have a limited capacity for reading, so make sure they can take away the most basic information within 30 seconds.
Additional reading: How to Write Like a Journalist to Be a Better Marketing Storyteller
2. Give value to the audience→ ensure that the message of the press release also fits with the target audience of the news source. For example, if you are writing about a new agricultural update, do not send it to a fashion magazine.
3. Follow the inverted pyramid→ the inverted pyramid is a structure of importance, with the most important information first, followed by secondary details, and then additional info. The highest tier should include what is happening and when it is happening. Secondary details can include quotes and other details. Additional information is boilerplate information and addition times and dates.
4. Use quotes→ showing quotes allows for the journalist to share the story easier→ if quotes are already in the article, then journalists have to take less time writing the actual article
5. Eliminate fluff→ be to the point, write in the third person and eliminate excess adjectivesFollow AP style→ this is the language used in journalism so it should also be adhered to when writing the press release
6. Use correct release language→ define whether the story is “for immediate release” or “hold release until” to control when and how you want the story released
7. Keep to the company image→ use logo and colors to create a cohesive brand for the organization
Keeping all of these tips in mind, the actual writing of the press release can be broken down into seven steps. The steps are listed below:
1. Find your angle→ does your story have local impact, conflict, demonstrate progress, or evoke an emotional response?
2. The headline→ the headline needs to get the attention of the audience, use keywords that will grab the attention of the target audience
3. Write the leading paragraph→ include your angle, the 5 W’s (who, what, when, why, where), and the reason to care
4. The body paragraphs→ the following 2-5 body paragraphs should tell the whole story, each paragraph should only be 3-4 sentences and the press release should not extend beyond one page
Additional reading: 40 Content Writing Tips to Make You a Better Marketer
5. Quotes→ the quotes should all serve a purpose of helping narrate your story, always include who the quote is by as well
6. Contact information→ give name, email address, and phone number for a person to contact for any followup questions
7. Boilerplate statement→ should include name, mission, founding dates, company size, and what the organization is doing today
Timing of Publication
Timing the release of the press release is important to ensure that the editors can actually see the story in their inbox. Since stories are usually assigned earlier in the week, but there is an influx of emails on Monday, Tuesday mornings from 9:00 am-10:00 am are the best time to send anything.
Distribution of Press Release
After spending so much time writing, distribution is the next step. It is important to take this step seriously because it ensures the success of your story actually reaching an audience. As CoSchedule discusses, there are two main avenues for distribution:
1. Sharing the story with a couple of selected editors→ editors desire to have exclusives, so limiting how many people you send the press release to might help with specific publications. This method should be taken if there are certain news outlets that are seen as important for the release’s goals
2. Blasting the press release out→ sending it on wire platforms increases the likelihood that an outlet somewhere will pick it up
If choosing to do the first method of distribution, research on potential news outlets can help narrow down options. Options to explore include: industry publications, local newspapers, general news sites, bloggers, and industry partners.
After the press release is shared with media outlets, follow-up with a phone call or email. Although this may take more time, the personal touch increases an editor’s chance of seeing and taking interest to your story.