Perhaps one of the most overlooked ways to market your company’s big news is through a press release. Although many industry experts claim this practice is dead, the truth is that it is still very much alive and a wonderful way to draw attention to important news.
But what does it take to release one, and what’s the benefit of doing so? Our content marketing team has taken a bit of time to put together this short press release guide and how to write one for your event, product launch, or new business.
What is a Press Release, and Why is It Important?
Generally, press releases are sent to journalists and news media to help shed light on an important event, product launch, or announcement of a new business. Long before the days of social media and text messaging, this was how the local newspaper, evening news, and major magazine publications found out what was going on in the world.
These days, they are still used but with a different context. Interesting and engaging press releases are sent to a distribution service or posted on a special website like Help a Reporter (HARO) that matches journalists with potential news story topics. Media insiders then choose which stories they want to cover or find experts that match a piece they are already working on, get in touch with you, and schedule an interview. In some cases, they simply take the information from the press release and write a story directly from that data.
In addition to helping gain media attention, press releases are also great for another reason—search engine optimization. Not only are these posts favored by search engines like Google and Bing, but they are a great way to put out content that attracts the attention of the general public. Oh, and those distribution services? Posts on their sites usually garner a few great backlinks, too.
How to Write a Generic Press Release
Before you can write a press release for a specific purpose, it is important to understand how to write one in general. Once you’ve got the basic process down, you can easily format one to fit your unique needs.
To start, you’ll want to determine your angle. What do you want the world to know, what’s happening with your company, and why does it matter? Why do people really care about the information you’re offering?
Next, there are a few sections that a press release should always include, such as:
- Headline. You want to make it very clear why the press release is exciting and important. Remember, you’re trying to catch the attention of news publications!
- Press Contact. What’s the easiest way for a journalist to get in touch with you to learn more?
- Location Including City and State. Be precise as to where this exciting event or product launch is happening.
- Body Copy. This is where the so-called meat of your press release lives. It should also be the longest section of those mentioned here.
- Boiler Plate. This is an important section that explains briefly who you are and what your business is all about. Think of it as a similar format to an elevator pitch—one to two sentences that show what your organization does and why you do it. Usually, this is the last section of the press release page.
The body copy section also has a pretty specific format. Generally referred to as the inverted pyramid structure, there’s a particular way it should be written. For example:
- Think like a journalist and keep the most important details near the top of the section. This includes things like what’s happening, why it is happening, when it is happening, who is in charge, and where it is all going down.
- Next comes other important details. This is where you can add quotes from those who are involved, very short testimonials, and additional pertinent but less relevant information.
- At the end, you’ll want to include information on how to get in touch with you or your company for further information.
Press releases are generally kept pretty short with a maximum of a full page or two. Remember, this is time to get the most important details out—not write your version of War and Peace for the whole world to have to sift through!
How to Write a Press Release for an Event
Press releases are a great way to bring attention to a special event and attract a wide audience. When it comes to writing a press release for a special function, the general format is still the same. However, make sure to include all pertinent details such as the date, location, time, and/or ticket information. You should also make it clear that the event has a huge impact on the lives of people who live in your area—whether it is a special meeting of the minds, a sale, or a charity gala. Stress the importance of why people should care that it is happening.
How to Write a Press Release for a Product
Writing a press release for a product is a little different, but still virtually the same process. Instead of stressing a certain time or place as you would for an event, focus on how the product solves a problem for customers. You want to position the item as a valuable addition to the lives of your target audience in a way that makes the media care. Where you can, use so-called quotable quotes from top people in your organization or key stakeholders in your company.
How to Write a Press Release for a Book
Press releases for books are a bit different in that they have a lot of weight to carry in a minimal amount of copy space. For this type, you’ll want to include elements such as a background on the piece, why it is important, and short, direct quotations from the author. For a fiction piece, you can include a bit about the plot or the main characters. In non-fiction, you should discuss why the author is qualified to discuss the primary topic of the book. And don’t forget to include the date it becomes available and where it can be purchased.
How to Write a Press Release for a New Business
Launching a new business? A press release is a great way to gain attention and put your name out there for the world to see. The most crucial element to consider when announcing your company is with a compelling angle. Journalists (and consumers) want to know why your business matters to their lives. It isn’t good enough to simply say who you are and where you’re located. Get creative and think of the importance of your business in solving their problems and meeting their needs.
Other Important Tips to Consider
When writing a press release, there are a few more important tips to consider. First, don’t write press releases too often. You want to save these for really special events and newsworthy promotions. If you simply put out a release every week or month, there’s a good chance you won’t be taken as seriously.
Only send your press releases to relevant editors and specific posting sites. This is not a time when shotgun blasting your piece to everyone under the sun is a good idea. You’ll likely gain better traction if you stick to people who are specifically in your niche, local area, or have some sort of connection to the news you’re announcing.
Get Help from a Press Release Pro
Press releases are a great way to draw attention to your business, product, or event. While the format takes a little bit of practice, once you get it down, you can easily send one out to gain additional attention any time you like. This is not only a great way to reach new customers and supporters, but it might also even lead to valuable media contacts who can help you in the future.
Not sure you’re ready to tackle writing a press release on your own? No problem! Our Zero Gravity Marketing team knows exactly how to get your event, product launch, or new business on the media radar. Contact us today to learn more.