Five Tips For Writing Press Releases
Looking to boost your business or organization’s profile and build your brand? Consider adding the venerable press release to your public relations (PR) or marketing strategy.
Press releases have been a publicity standby for decades. The press release format hasn’t changed much since 1906, the first time a publicist used one to protect a business’s brand. Social media, however, has given press releases a new purpose.
By tapping into the power of social media, your press releases can do double duty. Press releases written with strong keywords for search engine optimization (SEO) can be used to connect with traditional media and leveraged by your business’s social media channels.
How? The same press release-sent media can be posted to your business website. You can link your business’s social media to your press release, bringing that same news to your social followers. If you choose, you can even invest in issuing your press release on a newswire that will publish it on a variety of news websites, giving your press release even more exposure.
No matter the distribution, your press release strategy relies on carefully crafted content that follows some best practices, including the following five tips for writing effective press releases:
1) Create compelling headlines.
2) Include a summary statement.
3) Make sure the lead paragraph includes the 5Ws.
4) Boost body copy with quotes and multimedia.
5) Use a boilerplate to provide basic information.
Press Release Headline
Reporters and editors are flooded daily with press releases streaming in via email and social media channels. Your press release headline introduces your news and you want it to stand out. Catch and hold media attention with compelling headlines that use active language to explain why your news matters.
Be sure your headline includes keywords. While editors typically write new headlines to meet specific layouts, your keywords might be included in editors’ headlines.
Press Release Summary Statement
A summary statement is two to three brief sentences outlining your news’ major elements. Remember those busy reporters and editors reading a myriad of press releases every day? A press release summary statement is an efficient way to share context you want them to consider.
Summary statements are also important for press releases issued via newswires. Newswires are organizations that distribute press releases to designated media outlets. Releases issued via newswires are often posted to news websites. In many cases, those news websites will simply post your press release headline and the link to your business website. Adding a summary statement might make a reader more inclined to click through to your complete press release.
Press Release Lead Paragraph
The lead paragraph gives the media (and other readers) a more complete view of your new product. Effective lead paragraphs are based on the 5 Ws —Who, What, When, Where and Why.
For example, the lead paragraph for your new product will include your company name (who), that your company is launching a new product (what), the announcement date (when), your company’s headquarters location (where) and what the new product means to the company and customers (why).
Press Release Body Copy
The term body copy refers to the press release’s main section. Typically, this section consists of two to three paragraphs that elaborate on your news. Using the new product launch as an example, this content offers more detail about your business product’s features and benefits, who might benefit from using your new product or how the new product fits into your business’s overall strategy.
The body copy section is a great place to include quotes and multimedia, such as photographs or audio and video clips. Quotes, photographs, and audio and video clips serve two purposes—these elements can increase media interest and media mentions and they can humanize the news. For example, as a business owner, you could be quoted in your news release and participate in audio and video content to strengthen the relationship between your business and customers, both prospective and current.
Press Release Boilerplate
A boilerplate is a general statement about your company. Boilerplate content can range from statistics—business locations, number of employees or products -- to mission statements to advertising taglines. Boilerplate statements are also a good place to include links to your company’s website and social media channels.
PR Agency or PR Marketing Agency?
Ready to harness the power of press releases, but not sure you have the resources? Consider working with a PR agency or a PR marketing agency. Not sure which type of agency is best for your business? Below are examples of marketing and PR strategies that might be provided by PR marketing agencies and PR agencies.
What to Expect from a PR Marketing Agency
A PR marketing agency might also be called a full-service agency. That’s because PR marketing agency staff have expertise and experience in both marketing and PR and can shift resources to meet a myriad of needs.
So, what should you expect from a PR marketing agency?
1) The PR marketing agency team might start with a 360-degree view of your business needs, your industry and your market by completing marketing audits and competitor analysis.
2) Using that audit and analysis, the PR marketing team will recommend strategies and tactics that combine marketing and public relations. For example, still using the new product launch example, a PR marketing agency team will develop a strategy that drives a consistent story through a range of platforms. These platforms might include:
a) Traditional paid advertising such as “out-of-home” billboards, television, radio and social media.
b) Social media strategy, including SEO and keyword analysis that will drive social media strategy, such as content calendars and content production.
c) Email marketing or email outreach to prospective and current clients. Email marketing might announce new offers or share useful information related to the products and services your business provides.
As the name implies, a PR agency specializes in public relations activities including events, media relations and corporate communications. Using the product launch example above, here’s what to expect from a PR agency:
1) The agency team will evaluate your business needs and recommend a PR strategy. For example, the team might recommend launching the new product with a major event that is supported by media relations such as local and national media outreach with press releases, press pitches and media kits, marketing influencer outreach and media monitoring.
2) The agency team will have demonstrated experience with several PR strategies:
a) Media relations: PR agencies will provide examples of teams’ relationships with relevant reporters and editors and how the team uses press releases, press pitches and media kits to obtain media mentions.
b) Social media: Given social media’s impact on brand building, the media relations team should have experience using social media channels to connect with media and with influencers.
c) Media monitoring: PR agencies typically use several ways to monitor media mentions. Monitoring media mentions is one way to evaluate a given campaign’s success. PR agencies can also monitor media for negative media mentions.
Press Release Resource
Getting ready to launch a new product or announce new hires? Think a press release campaign might help, but not sure where to start? We’re ready to pitch in!
The public relations team at Jennasis & Associates knows press release best practices. Writing press releases and developing media kits that include press releases are just two of the public relations support services we provide. The media-savvy team at Jennasis & Associates has writing, editing and social media skills to help your news make its mark across media platforms.
Connect with Jennasis & Associates to learn more about press releases and other public relations tactics. To get started, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our contact form.
Drez Jennings has pursued her passion for writing and editing as a journalist covering crime and politics, and as a media relations and marketing communications pro supporting large financial services, healthcare, and legal businesses. Drez lives with her husband Mark Wainwright in a 100-year-old Arts and Crafts home in eastern Lake County. Fun fact: all of Drez’ pets are named for musicians. Now on stage – black Lab Joe Walsh, and cats Jerry Garcia and James Brown.