Public relations is the lifeblood of any successful business, and press releases are key to maintaining and growing a company’s reputation. In this guide to press releases, we’ll detail how to construct an effective press release and look at the circumstances that call for them.
- Who reads press releases?
- What are the elements of a press release?
- When should you create a press release?
- Tips for writing effective press releases
- Capitalize on your press releases
Who reads press releases?
When composing any piece of text or company-related content, it’s crucial you know your target audience and goals. In most cases with press releases, your audience will be reporters, consumers, and investors interested in your company.
A press release is much more formal than a blog or social media update. Your key purpose when writing a press release is generally to garner interest from reporters so that they’ll spin the news into stories of their own. As such, your press release needs to be succinct and follow the generally accepted structure.
What are the elements of a press release?
The typical main elements of a successful press release are as follows:
- “For Immediate Release” at the top, accompanied by both company and media contact information (name, phone, and email of the individual responsible for distributing the press release to the media)
- A catchy title and subheading to capture the gist of the press release
- News location—typically the city and state where your company’s headquarters is located—in bold before the body of content begins
- Body of content: a few paragraphs that explain the headline in more detail
- Bulleted facts when appropriate
- Company summary and contact information again
- ### — the characteristic way of signaling the end of a press release
You should always follow a reverse pyramid approach to constructing your press release, with key information established at the top and contextual details at the bottom. Hooking your reader in as soon as possible is key to creating an effective press release.
Most of these elements are included in the press release template from Guru below:
When should you create a press release?
Here are three of the top circumstances that warrant a press release:
Example 1: Product launches
Product launches are a big deal and one of the most common reasons for writing a press release. When writing about product launches or updates, the goal is to raise awareness and generate enthusiasm around the launch. Product launch press releases should specify product features and usages in addition to technical specifications and pricing.
Product launch press release example: In this example, Nestlé announces the launch of a new product, specifies the target markets, and includes product development and distribution information. The company also uses the occasion to further its partnership with Starbucks.
Example 2: Company announcements
It’s also common practice to issue press releases for company announcements, including leadership changes, mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships. This is a great chance to include relevant quotes from leadership and keep company stakeholders in the loop about important developments.
Company announcement press release example: With this news announcement, Censinet celebrates its stringent cybersecurity protocols and HIPAA compliance. The company aims to set a new standard for hospital risk management systems and advertise its industry presence.
Example 3: Crisis communication
When your company falls on hard times, a press release is a perfect place to address concerns and pave a clear path forward. Whether the crisis is an internal scandal or a global pandemic, a press release can help stop speculation in its tracks and assure stakeholders you’re responding to the issue at hand.
Crisis communication press release example: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the aviation industry had to publicly address plummeting revenues, safety on flights, and the severe reduction in air travel.
Tips for writing effective press releases
When constructing your press release, you’ll want to keep press release elements and circumstances top of mind. To make your press release stand out from the crowd, however, consider the following tips for writing effective press releases.
Follow the standard format
When it comes to press releases, it’s best to keep your creativity within the bounds of what’s widely accepted as the “standard” press release format. Otherwise, you risk confusing your audience and losing your audience. Press releases are formal statements, and your readers expect all of them to read in a similar fashion.
Include useful quotes and data
It’s always a good idea to include a quote in the second or third paragraph of your press release from a key source. That could be a company executive, an industry expert, or another knowledgeable person close to the news. Including background data is also useful in explaining your press release’s industry impact to journalists.
Focus on the headline first
The headline is arguably the most important part of your press release. If it fails to hook readers, the rest of the press release will be for naught. Your headline should be clear, intriguing, and free of industry-specific jargon.
Consider adding a summary
Although it may be a slight deviation from the traditional press release format, you can make an exception when adding a press release summary before the first paragraph of text.
By summarizing the news clearly and succinctly, busy journalists can gain an overview of the press release and immediately decide whether or not it’s worth their time to continue reading. Be sure to include any relevant statistics in the summary as well.
Capitalize on your press releases
Press releases are needed in a variety of circumstances, from business awards to leadership changes. In one survey, 44 percent of journalists and 63 percent of global respondents indicated they trust press releases before all other sources of brand information. By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to constructing impactful, effective press releases that generate positive publicity around your business.