Your marketing strategy might involve a mix of emails, social media, advertising, events, and other tactics, but one mention in the press can multiply all those efforts tenfold, sending a surge of new customers your way, and even take your small business to the next level.
But how do you make that happen for your business? How do you attract the attention of your local news, let alone publications like The New York Times? You can simply focus on your business and hope you catch a reporter’s eye, or you can speed the process along by writing a press release.
What is a press release/news release?
A press release is a document that announces a newsworthy story about your brand that the media might want to cover and provides all of the pertinent information a reporter or editor would need.
Some outlets will share your news based solely on the press release. Other times, they’ll contact you to arrange an interview or use you as an expert source for another story, especially if you regularly send out press releases sharing newsworthy topics.
Simply saying “Look at my business!” isn’t newsworthy. Announcements that are, however, include:
- Launching a new business, product, or service
- Holding a large contest or competition
- Partnering with a charity, community organization, or celebrity
- Hosting an event
- Winning an award
- Sharing a customer success story
- Announcing a merger or acquisition
- Rebranding your business
- Promoting or hiring a new executive
A good way to gauge the newsworthiness of your story is to pay attention to coverage that other businesses receive.
Reporters look for stories that are timely, affect a large number of people, have an emotional element, or relate to other news stories. You could also tap into what people are talking about, either in person or on social media. If your business has a connection to a bigger story, you may improve your chances of getting covered.
The benefits of writing a press release
In addition to catching the attention of the media, writing a press release provides several added benefits.
- It’s a cost-effective tool you can add to your marketing strategy, especially if you’re a startup with a limited budget. Since releases are posted online, you might draw prospective customers and backlinks to your site as well.
- A well-written press release also helps you control your story. You can share what’s important to you and call attention to the value you offer. In the event of a crisis, a press release offers you a chance to respond to a story with your own.
- Distributing your story through a press release service can boost your content marketing efforts by increasing web traffic and improving search engine optimization.
Another benefit is the ability to share your press releases on the news or press page of your website. This can help establish you as an expert in your field. When a reporter visits your site and finds press releases available, you come across more professionally and save the reporter time by making pertinent information easily and quickly accessible.
Sample press release format
There are seven parts to a standard press release:
- Title and italicized subheading to summarize the news
- Location where the news is based, i.e., your headquarters
- Two to three paragraphs of details
- Bulleted facts
- Company description at the bottom
- Contact information
- A "###" at the end
When sending a press release, include in the upper left hand corner when you want reporters to publish the news. Two common options are:
- “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE,” if you want the story to go live right away.
- “HOLD FOR RELEASE UNTIL…” if you don’t want the story made public yet. Be sure to include the date when sending.
Press releases follow a consistent format that makes it easy for reporters and editors to find the information they need. It’s important to stick to the press release format to help reporters decide to cover your story.
A free press release template you can use
To help you get started on your press release kit, we put together this template to help you structure your story using a common press release format. Simply copy and paste it into Microsoft Word or Google Docs and start writing. You can replace each component with your own information and adapt it according to your needs.
[Headline that announces the story and captures attention]
[Subtitle that quickly summarizes your story]
[CITY, Month, Day, Year]—[Company Name, Company Description] announced today [the who, what, when, where, and, why of your story].
[Share past milestones, events, stats, research, and additional context a journalist might want. Use multiple paragraphs and bullet points if you need to.]
[Incorporate some quotes from the main subjects/experts involved in your story.]
[Emphasize once more what makes this story newsworthy.]
[End with more information about your company, how to learn more, and how to get in touch for more information.]
Types of press releases
Press releases are normally seen as just a way to generate publicity. However, there are many different types of press releases, each with their own formats and rules.
- Breaking news
- Product launches
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Product updates
- New partnerships
- Executive promotions
This is the most common type of press release. News outlets always want to be the first to cover a breaking story. From COVID updates to cryptocurrency, there's breadth in what news outlets will cover, but it's the hook in your story that will get your press release noticed. These press releases can be one- or two-page documents that share the latest news with the public.
Getting news of your product launch published gets the word out and drives sales for new offerings. A news release like this highlights your product’s pricing, availability, specs, and other useful information for customers.
Mergers and acquisitions
If your company is undergoing an organizational change remarkable enough to write a press release, you can use it to inform stakeholders about the company’s potential growth. When announcing a merger or acquisition, include details about the organizations involved, quotes from leadership, and information about the merger or acquisition.
Got a big product update in the works? Let the world know by writing a press release. This is similar to a product launch release. The main difference is that with product updates, you’ll want to focus on the changes made, why you made them, and how they affect the end user.
Event press releases can give reporters something timely and relevant to publish. They are also a great way to promote your event and get more attendees. When writing a press release for events, make sure to clearly explain the details. Use bullet points or a list to highlight the who, what, when, and where for readers to easily comprehend.
If you team up with another company or non-profit, it could be newsworthy. A press release announcing partnerships can be a smart marketing tool for both companies.
If you want to successfully execute this type of press release, make sure to:
- Write an overview of each company
- Explain why the partnership was created
- Include who is benefiting from the partnership
- Add any extra details for current and future partners
Rebranding is often a challenge for businesses both big and small. Customers may end up confused if their brands change identity overnight. A press release announcing your rebrand can help ease the transition into this new phase of your business.
When writing a press release for your rebrand, include:
- What the changes are
- Why the changes are taking place
- How it affects your customers
- When the changes go into effect
- Quotes from leadership
At bigger companies, executive promotions and new hires are considered big news. Organizations are constantly hiring and replacing leadership roles. Announcing changes in key positions can help stakeholders understand what’s going on and kick off a candidate’s new role in the company.
Did your company win a big award? It’s OK to brag about it. Announcements about industry awards can help solidify your company’s reputation as an expert in the space. A press release for award nominations should include:
- Why your company was chosen
- Details about the award
- Information about the ceremony (if there is one)
How to write a press release
Here are seven steps to writing an effective press release, step-by-step:
- Find a newsworthy angle
- Craft an appealing press release headline
- Summarize your story in your subtitle
- Introduce essential information
- Provide supporting information and context
- Lead into the reader’s next steps
- End with your boilerplate
1. Find a newsworthy angle
Even a well-written, personalized press release will fail if the story it’s telling isn’t interesting to a journalist’s target audience.
2. Craft an appealing press release headline
Use the main benefit from your press release to write a headline that is both clear and compelling. Convey the value of your news to the press.
The headline should be catchy but also easy to understand. Professional writers often spend as much time on a headline as they do writing an article. If you need inspiration, review your favorite blogs and online news sources and pay attention to the headlines that make you want to click to the story.
3. Summarize your story in your subtitle
Summarize the entire content of the press release in a single sentence that supports the heading and gives a taste of the content to follow.
4. Introduce essential information
In the first sentence, state your company’s city and state, followed by the date. Then your opening paragraph should answer the questions, “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” and “why” in a way that grabs the reporter’s interest.
5. Provide supporting information and context
Follow up with testimonials, statistics, research details, and case study excerpts. In the first paragraph, immediately tell reporters why they should share your announcement by explaining why their readers care.
Then use supporting body copy to bring your release to life with details and colorful quotes from company spokespeople. Simply stating facts or sounding self-congratulatory won’t do.
One common formatting mistake businesses make when writing a press release is making it too long. Michelle Garrett, a PR consultant at Garrett Public Relations, explains, “Don’t try to cram everything under the sun into your press release. The purpose of a press release is to give an overview and a few pertinent details about what it is you’re announcing.”
She adds, “Include one or two executive and/or customer quotes. Then be sure to include links to visit for more information.” Aim to keep your press release short, sweet, and to the point.
6. Lead into the reader’s next steps
Summarize the article and include a call to action or details of where more information on the subject matter can be found.
7. End with your boilerplate
Complete your release with a strong but succinct boilerplate. Clearly explain what your company does and why its stakeholders are experts in the industry. And don’t forget to include contact information. A release won’t go anywhere if a reporter can’t easily contact the stakeholder or his or her representative.
Provide background information and overview of the company. Include contact information. (At the bottom of the press release, it is common to include three ### symbols or “--30--” to signify the end.)
Also, make sure to double check your press release for spelling and grammar errors. You can use a free online grammar checker to make your writing clearer and more powerful before sending it off!
Press release examples you can learn from
Below is a press release example from Bulletproof announcing a new product line.
As you read it, note its use of attention-grabbing statistics, action words, and clear benefits. The use of bulleted information makes the release easy to scan and read. The boilerplate also includes more resources for reporters as well as social media information. It ends with the name, phone number, and email of the company’s media contact.
Bulletproof Releases Cold Brew Line of Ready-To-Drink Bulletproof Coffee
After selling more than 100 million cups of its signature brew, convenient, premade version now available at Whole Foods stores nationwide
SEATTLE, Sept. 6, 2017 -- Bulletproof 360, Inc., creators of Bulletproof ® coffee and other high-performance food and nutrition products, announced today the largest product launch in company history with the release of Bulletproof Coffee Cold Brew. The new grab-and-go version of the signature coffee is available in four flavors and made with Bulletproof coffee beans, Brain Octane® oil and grass-fed butter, delivering a convenient and delicious coffee drink with the same benefits Bulletproof fans have come to love, including sustained energy and mental focus, all without sugar or chemicals.
To date, more than 100 million cups of the brand’s original recipe for Bulletproof Coffee have been consumed by people all over the country. The new on-the-go version provides sustainable energy from high-quality fats rather than sugar, allowing people to boost their performance anywhere—from the gym, to carpool duty or in the boardroom. Bulletproof Coffee Cold Brew is the newest innovation from the company that will allow people to conveniently take steps toward achieving their goals and unleashing their full potential.
After years of research, development, and testing, Bulletproof Coffee Cold Brew is currently rolling out at Whole Foods locations nationwide this month and can also be ordered online at bulletproof.com.
Bulletproof Coffee Cold Brew Details:
- Key ingredients include cold brew coffee made with Bulletproof beans, Brain Octane oil (a powerful energy source extracted from the most potent part of the coconut), and grass-fed butter
- Made with Bulletproof clean coffee beans that are certified to be free of 27 toxins
- Available in four flavors – Original, Vanilla, Mocha, Original + Collagen Protein (13g of protein)
- Sugar-free and no refrigeration required
- Original: 140 calories, 0 g sugar
- Vanilla: 190 calories, 0 g sugar
- Mocha: 220 calories, 0 g sugar
- Original + Collagen Protein: 230 calories, 0 g sugar, 13 g protein
“It is with great happiness and genuine excitement that we announce the release of Bulletproof Coffee Cold Brew,” said Dave Asprey, CEO and founder of Bulletproof. “When you don’t have time to spare but want to take a step towards a sharper, stronger self, this new ready-to-drink cold brew version offers the same results as Bulletproof coffee in a pre-made, ready to enjoy beverage.”
This announcement comes on the heels of $19 million in Series B funding led by CAVU Venture Partners and Trinity Ventures that closed in May 2017.
About Bulletproof 360, Inc.
Founded by biohacker, bestselling author, and Bulletproof coffee creator Dave Asprey, Bulletproof 360 is dedicated to providing the world with groundbreaking, science-based information, techniques, tools and products to help people perform better, increase focus, enhance energy, and live longer. Resources include #1 ranked podcast Bulletproof Radio, the New York Times bestselling books THE BULLETPROOF DIET and HEAD STRONG, documentary feature film MOLDY, The Bulletproof Executive blog, and more. Twitter: @bpnutrition Instagram:@bulletproofcoffee https://www.bulletproof.com/
Tips for press release distribution
Whether it’s your fifth press release or your first, keep the following distribution tips in mind:
1. Cold pitch media outlets
Make a list of the media outlets whose readers and viewers would be most interested in your news and send your release directly to them via email. You can find their email addresses with a quick internet search: [reporter name] + [news outlet] + email address.
When sending your email, craft a good subject line to grab the contact’s attention. You may want to get creative, but it’s better to keep it simple.
A recent study by PR management software brand Prezly found that the average open rate of “labeled” press release emails saw a 2% higher open rate than “unlabeled” ones.
Examples of “labeled” subject lines include:
- PR: Title of story
- Press release: Title of story
- Title of story [Press release]
If that doesn’t produce results, use a tool like Hunter that provides email formulas for outlets. Or simply connect with them on Twitter or LinkedIn.
2. Use a press release distribution service
These companies send your release to journalists based on their specific interests and also publish it on their website. Each service offers a variety of options and costs can vary greatly, ranging from $69 to a few thousand dollars.
You can use popular services like:
3. Hire a PR professional
Another option is to hire a public relations professional who can write and distribute a press release for you. These professionals often have existing relationships with the press and may be able to get you media coverage more easily.
4. Send time-sensitive news articles early
If your news is time sensitive, such as an event or announcement, send it to reporters a few days beforehand so they have time to craft their story.
If you want news outlets to hold off on publishing, release it under embargo, which is a request that reporters not publish information until a specific date. If you really need something kept secret, make sure to only offer embargoed news to outlets you trust.
Generate buzz with a press release
While a press release doesn’t guarantee free press coverage, it can be an effective marketing tool for entrepreneurs. By sending out releases with a regular cadence, you start to build up brand recognition with members of the media, influencers, and bloggers.
You never know when an outlet might be looking for a source in your industry, remember your company, and reach out for an interview. By sharing newsworthy information, you become a thought leader in your field.
Successful publicity depends on sustained effort. If you do get press coverage, keep the buzz going by sharing those stories on social media. Mention previous coverage in the boilerplate of your next press release. Press often follows press, and once you get your first mention, you might find it easier to get a second, third, and so on.
Press release FAQ
How do you write a press release?
- Find a newsworthy angle
- Write an attention-grabbing headline
- Write your opening sentence (aka, lede)
- Craft two to five strong body paragraphs with supporting details
- Add quotes
- Include contact information
- Write boilerplate copy
Are press releases good for SEO?
Google has stated that links in press releases are “ignored.” But that doesn’t mean a press release can’t impact your SEO indirectly. Other publications can pick up your press release and write a follow-up story about it on their own websites, with links that point back to your website.
What are the 7 parts of a press release?
- Date and location
- Body paragraph
- Company description
- End or close
What makes a good press release?
- Compelling storylines
- Information over promotion
- A professional, polished finish
- Exposure using paid or free press release distribution and outreach tools