When running a business, you’ll sometimes need to spread news about what you’re up to. For these situations, a press release is ideal. If you don’t know how to write one, you might miss out on a lot of potential interest.
Writing press releases is an art form. They need to be engaging so you can convince other people to cover them. In this article, we’ll talk about some tips you can use to write better ones. We’ll also show you a template you can use to get started immediately. However, let’s first talk a bit more about what press releases are and when to use them!
What Press Releases Are (And When to Use Them)
A press release is a summary of important news related to your company. You’ll essentially write a press release, then send it to several news organizations so they’re aware of what’s happening. If they’re interested, they’ll write about the news in their publications.
To be more specific, press releases aren’t normally written for page copy. Instead, they catch the attention of the people who do write the news, so they can decide if they want to pursue the lead.
With this in mind, press releases tend to be a lot shorter than regular articles, and focus on facts primarily. For example, take this press release by the Southern Bank:
The Southern Bank Celebrates 80 Years – Then & Now
The Southern Bank Company, a full-service bank based out of Gadsden, AL is pleased to announce that 2017 will be its 80th anniversary. The bank has branch locations in Gadsden, Guntersville, Albertville and Centre, with a specialty commercial lending division, altLINE, operating out of Birmingham.
“We are proud to celebrate 80 years of business. We’ve been fortunate to have a great team that has served generations of families in north Alabama. We are grateful for the relationships we have with our customers, and the trust they place in us. They have a lot of options these days, so it is not something we take for granted” says Gates Little, President of The Southern Bank Company. For 80 years, The Southern Bank Company has provided great service and peace of mind for families and businesses. In 2017, as it celebrates this milestone, the bank has several events planned to thank its customers and the communities it serves.
On February 24th The Southern Bank Company commemorated its 80th anniversary with a breakfast networking event for the Gadsden Chamber of Commerce.
Expanding in A New Direction…
While a traditional community bank, The Southern Bank Company will also serve other financial institutions through the bank’s altLINE program, which provides non-traditional commercial lending solutions. altLINE helps banks retain clients who need working capital, but who don’t fit bank guidelines.
Let’s be honest – this blurb is not going to win any awards. However, it fulfills a purpose of garnering enough attention to achieve one of three goals:
- To get additional media coverage.
- Getting backlinks from reputable publications.
- Receiving additional traffic that you may be able to translate into conversions.
The above example is all about getting media coverage. However, there are a lot of other situations where writing a press release might make sense – launching a new product or offering discounts, for example. If you’re running a sizable business, it can also make sense to write a press release about changes in your team.
Overall, if you think developments within your business are newsworthy, you should take the time and write up a press release. The worst-case scenario is that you don’t generate enough publicity. To avoid this, let’s discuss how to write a press release, and the key considerations you’ll need to make.
How to Write a Press Release (4 Best Practices)
You probably have experience writing all kinds of content, but the process of crafting a good press release is fairly different. Here are four tips to ensure your press releases get the attention they deserve.
1. Use a Clear and Informative Headline
With blog posts, you’ll usually implement many different techniques to capture attention. Take a look at this post’s title, for example – it’s descriptive, but we also provide extra information about what you’ll get (i.e. a press release template.) This is great for blog posts, but not so much for a press release given the target reader will need to sort through hundreds of similar emails.
The best way to grab a journalist’s attention is to summarize your press release within its title. Here are a few examples of real press release titles we like:
- TV Ears Unveils the First Senior-Friendly HDTV at Consumer Electronics Show.
- The Powerline Group Announces New College Scholarship Program For Long Island and National Students.
- Day Translations Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary.
Each of these press releases describes exactly what the content will discuss. If you’re used to writing ‘clickbaity’ titles, it’s a habit you need to get out of when writing a press release.
We also recommend you keep post titles relatively short most of the time. This way, they’ll show up in their entirety within the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). However, you should look to include as much detail as you can offer within your titles. It’s a hard balance to get right.
2. Get People’s Attention With Your First Paragraph
It’s an unfortunate truth, but many readers of your content don’t actually do anything of the sort. Studies suggest online readers skim a lot – in other words, they jump from one section to another and are only concerned with the specific information they’re searching for.
In practice, this means you need to make an extra effort to engage readers, especially for your press releases. When you write a press release, you need to provide all of the most pertinent information. There are five key elements to cover:
- Who your press release is about.
- What the core subject of the press release is.
- When the events within the press release will occur.
- Where your news, event, or promotion will take place.
- Why readers should be interested, or why the press release is newsworthy.
There’s a lot to cover, but you’re helped due to a press release simply containing facts. In contrast, other types of content usually need a narrative of some kind. What’s more, you don’t necessarily have to write in the order we’ve presented. For example, check out this example opener:
New York, Nov. 5, 2018. The Handsome Puppy Shelter will be holding an adoption drive on November 10th, 2018. The initiative is spearheaded by John and Jane Doe, who run the shelter and will organize the event. The drive will take place at the Nepperhan Community Center (342 Warburton Avenue), and it’s a great opportunity if you’re looking to find a forever home for ‘Man’s Best Friend.’
You’ll notice we presented the five points in the best order on this occasion. Each press release is different, so you feel free to play around with the structure. Also, depending on what your news is, it may not be necessary to hit all five of those elements, and they may even be a little abstract. For example, if there isn’t going to a physical event, the ‘where’ is irrelevant. However, you may want to provide company location details to tie the press release to local news outlets.
3. Include Quotes Whenever Possible
Many journalists love quotes because they give social proof and a more personal touch to their stories. Take a look at this snippet from the example near the beginning of this article. You’ll notice part of the second paragraph is a quote from bank President:
“We are proud to celebrate 80 years of business. We’ve been fortunate to have a great team that has served generations of families in north Alabama. We are grateful for the relationships we have with our customers, and the trust they place in us. They have a lot of options these days, so it is not something we take for granted” says Gates Little, President of The Southern Bank Company.
The quote could easily feature in the full news article. Plus, it includes information about where the quote came from, which saves the editor more time on research.
As far as quotes go, you’ll usually want to stick to people from within your business. Preferably, this person will be someone with authority and relevancy, as they’ll need to give some insight about the news you’re trying to share.
4. Add Some Boilerplate Information About Your Business
Unless you’re well-known, the recipients of your press release will have little idea of what your business does. Ideally, your press release’s first paragraph will take care of this somewhat with the ‘who’ element. However, it’s always a good practice to devote part of your press release to giving a basic introduction to your business.
You’ll normally add ‘boilerplate’ information to the end of the press release, and it should be even more factual and formal than your press release’s body copy. For the uninitiated, here’s a quick example of what we mean:
The Handsome Puppy Shelter is a non-profit organization based in Yonkers that rescues dogs from the streets, provides veterinarian assistance, and regularly holds drives to foster adoption. The shelter is run by John and Jane Doe. For more information, visit puppyshelter.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The goal here is to provide all of the most basic information for whoever’s tasked with reading the press release. A decent journalist will often still carry out further research, but including this information is still considered good practice.
A Press Release Template You Can Use For Free
As we outlined, each press release is unique. However, in many cases they follow a similar structure (or at least the better ones do). Let’s go over the template itself:
[Your company logo]
For immediate release (note you can format this to your own requirements within reason, in order for it to stand out).
PRESS RELEASE HEADLINE
[Subheader with further information, which is optional]
[An opening paragraph containing the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, and ‘why’ elements]
[A few extra paragraphs detailing more about the subject, including quotes from prominent members of your team, and other contextual information]
[BOILERPLATE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS]
That’s pretty much it for any basic press release. At the beginning, include basic contact information so journalists can reach you (you’ll likely repeat this within your boilerplate paragraph). We’ve also included the line reading, “For immediate release.” This is standard for press releases, as are the three octothorpes (“###”), which signifies the end of the press release.
Everything in between will depend on what your news is. One page is usually enough, although the main consideration is to provide all of the information news outlets need to make a decision on whether to run a story.
Learning how to write a press release requires a bit of practice. However, once you master this skill, you should have an easier time driving attention to your business when the situation warrants it. For example, if you’re launching a new product, running a contest, or hosting an event, you may need a press release.
As for how to make sure your press release stands out, here are four tips to help you improve yours:
- Use a clear and informative headline.
- Get people’s attention with your first paragraph.
- Include quotes whenever possible.
- Add some boilerplate information about your business at the end.
Do you have any questions about how to write a press release that catches people’s attention? Ask away in the comments section below!
Article thumbnail image by vasabii / shutterstock.com.