Writing The Perfect Press Release
When it comes to writing a press release, it might seem like a simple prospect. Just get the important information in and send it off, right?
Well, not quite.
To write an effective press release – one that really sells – you need to take a different approach. Thankfully we’re here today to give you all the tools you need to get that press release copy popping.
Right, the press release format. Let’s get the basics out of the way to begin with. What are the key elements you need in your press release?
Here we have the 10 principal elements of any good press release. Let’s take a look at each one.
1. Company Logo
Fairly straightforward. Insert your company logo into the head of the press release. Ensure that the image is good quality if it is to be printed. A good rule of thumb is a logo around 200×200 pixels. Obviously this can be adjusted if your logo is wider than it is tall.
If you are going to be emailing your press release out, it is a good idea to either attach a high resolution image of the company’s logo with the release. Alternatively, you can add a link to a high res version of your logo. A PNG or SVG format is preferable over a JPEG.
2. Release Date
This is key. If your company news can be made public immediately write:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE: [ INSERT TODAY’S DATE ]
In some circumstances you may want to make the media aware of impending company news before it can actually go live. This is what’s known as an embargoed press release, and the media outlets you send the release to will have to honour the date the embargo will be lifted. In this case write:
Embargoed for Release Until [ MONTH, DATE, YEAR, TIME, TIME ZONE ]
3. Contact Details
These should be the direct details of whoever in the company is handling the company’s press duties. If you are handling the press release on behalf of another company, as well as handling any media enquiries, then it should be your details here. If you are just writing the press release insert the contact details of the press officer at that company.
4. Press Release Title
Don’t mince your words here. Make it sharp, to the point and exciting. A journalist will see countless press releases in a day. If you want them following up your news, you will want to get them on the hook here.
It is also worth bearing in mind that your press release will likely be published as is on many websites – journalists won’t bother writing up an individual story on the news. So use this to your advantage. Make sure that the heading is primed for SEO and is an effective description of your news.
You can use the subtitle here to be a little lyrical. Don’t go overboard, but say something that backs up your top-line. What supplementary information would grab someone’s attention here?
5. The Opening Paragraph
Now we’re really getting into it. Here’s where a smart press release writer really comes into their own.
First of all, be sure to insert your location and date. This is where the press release – or story – originates from. The standard press release format is to bold this information and separate it from the following text by a dash. Here’s how it looks:
London, UK. (March 14th, 2019) –
After that, the first paragraph of your press release needs to cover all of the crucial details. The whos, whats, wheres, whens and whys. As above, whoever you’re sending the release to is probably inundated on a daily basis. They need to be able to read this paragraph and understand everything they ought to in a matter of seconds.
6. The Body Text
Ok, here’s where you can go into a bit more detail. Get a little bit more creative.
The whole point of the rest of the press release is to add some weight to the story that has been detailed above. You don’t want to go crazy with the sales pitch here, but instead should be thinking about additional information that the reader will find interesting.
Is there a precedent for the story? Does this chime with previous releases? Is there any other media content that will support the release of this story?
Add Some Quotes
If this is product or service lead news – do you have any customer quotes that can be added here? In acquisitions news, this is a good place to add in a direct quote from one of the senior staff. Just don’t add too many. One quote should really suffice. And if it doesn’t, get another quote that does.
Adding Images or Video
Some will say that you can add images or video here, but proceed with caution. A lot of press release distributors will have strict guidelines on how and what media can be attached to a press release. Your safest bet is to link to high resolution images/infographics/video content in the text itself so that the release doesn’t end up spilling over onto a few pages.
7. The Key Points
Now, this isn’t mandatory, but at our agency we see it as good practice. Can you conjure up 3-4 absolutely killer bullet points that a journalist could fixate a piece around? The easier you make their lives, the more inclined they are to actually run the news and – better yet – do something with it.
8. The Company Boilerplate
Bam. You’ve got all the important information regarding your release out the way. Now for a bit of background. It’s time to screw on that boilerplate.
This section is basically and ‘about us’ for your company, and it always appears at the end of the press release’s body. Here you should include all relevant information on your company’s history, awards, etc. Anything that makes the company sound cool. Keep this section to around 100 words.
Oh, and if this is about the partnership between two or more companies, be sure to include a boilerplate for each company involved.
9. The End Notation
This is a little archaic hangover from the days when press releases used to be sent via fax machine. In order to know that they’d received all pages, press release writers appended 3 hashes (###) to the end of the final sheet.
Now that most releases are sent digitally it’s somewhat redundant, but remains part of press release best practices.
If your release runs over onto two or more pages, every page other than the final should finish with a:
10. The Final Notice
Here’s where you implore the reader to reach out to you for any further comment on the topic. Simply insert something along the lines of:
For comment or further information on this story, contact [ CONTACT ] on [ PHONE NUMBER] or [ EMAIL ADDRESS ].
So there you have it. All the raw ingredients that make up a press release. And, as with cooking any recipe, you need to know how to treat each individual ingredient in order to make it as tasty as possible.
But before we get to our top press release writing tips, let’s first take a look at some good press release examples.
The Best Press Release Ever Written
Ok. So perhaps they haven’t exactly followed every element we talked about above to the T. But what Mitch has done is pretty incredible, flipping the traditional press release on its head.
The point is that not every press release needs to be super straight-laced. More creative-edged industries can do something a little more exotic that will grab the reader.
Here we get the reasons for the rebrand with words straight from the CEO’s mouth. Accompanied by a succinct company history we’re also told of how the company will be looking to improve its services. That’s that value added stuff, the little embellishment that gives the reader a bit of a hook.
See the press release in full here.
When McDonald’s Moved
Here we see a press release example from the Mac-Daddy of the corporate world. A simple release, there are no bells and whistles, but it does exactly what it’s supposed to do.
We get a quote from the local mayor. We understand why the company is coming back to Chicago. Plus we have a link to high quality images for editors to use. Importantly, you don’t have any questions to ask, do you?
See the press release in full here.
1. Nail Your Angle
Before you begin writing a press release, you first need to answer the following questions yourself.
- Is my story newsworthy?
- Is there anything novel or intriguing about the story?
- Does this impact people outside of the company?
- Will anyone actually care?
If you can’t answer these questions positively, it’s safe to say that you probably don’t have a story that is press release-worthy. If you do, let’s proceed to the next round of questions…
- Who is this story for?
- What will this story change?
- Where does it take place?
- When will it happen?
- Why should anyone care?
2. Really, Really Nail That Headline
This is the first element of the press release that anyone will actually read. More importantly, it’s what your story is first going to be judged on. Fail here and there’s a good chance that the rest of the copy – no matter how good – may never see the light of day.
How to write the best press release headline? Follow these steps:
- Make it simple. Don’t use complicated language that people won’t understand.
- Use big numbers if applicable.
- Create a sense of urgency.
- Be specific.
- Be brief.
3. Slay With The Opening Paragraph
In a couple of short sentences you need to get across the 5 w’s that we just spoke about above. The best way to approach this is to think about the last article you read. In the first sentence you were told all of the key details about the story that you needed. It might even be all you read… So take a look at your favourite newspaper for some inspiration here.
What to include in the opening paragraph of a press release:
- Hook your audience.
- Answer the whos, whats, wheres, whens and whys.
- Tell the reader why they should care.
4. Quote Like A King
It may be tempting to just supply a quote that adds some more information about the story, but a quote can be so much more powerful. It can provide some real, genuine insight into the story itself as well as adding context.
The quote should be from someone of a senior position in the company – preferably someone who is responsible for the development of the story itself. Alternatively, you could get a quote from a client or partner that makes your project sound real and promising.
5. A Well Baked Boilerplate
Your boilerplate copy needs to appear at the foot of every press release. The good thing is that if you nail this once, all you need to do is update it from time to time as your company’s situation changes.
Here are the key points to include in your press release boilerplate:
- What your company is called.
- What your mission statement is.
- When the company was formed.
- The size of your company.
- What your company is up to today.
So there you have it. Everything you need to know to write a perfect press release. Happy hunting.