What is a Press Release?
A press release is a document that is intended to announce a newsworthy event to the media who will then disseminate the information to the general public. Most press releases are two pages at most, but all contain the same basic information. Press releases tell the media the issuing party, the official announcement, locations involved, when the event is taking place, and why the news is important to the public as a whole.
Press releases exist to provide announcements to the media of important events such as the opening of a new business, new product launches, new partnerships or branding, receiving an award, or hiring a new executive for the company.
Creating press releases provides media companies with enough data to create their own content using the information provided. Including a press release as part of a regular news cycle can give the media a creative angle of which to enjoy and share the news item in question. Businesses that distribute regular press releases should include new data, video when possible, and SlideShare content that increases the company’s likelihood of press agents sharing the information.
Successful press releases communicate the valuable news that is relevant to large groups of people, but without the use of industry jargon or irrelevant information. Content included should be up to date, provide insight into the company, value to the readers, and clear and concise copy.
Most releases include informative content that the media is willing to share through their own created content. To create a proper press release, businesses should make a proper announcement of their news. In order to accomplish this, the press release writer must consider a headline that is bold and engaging.
Press Release Headlines
Headlines should be clear, inclusive of keywords, and straight to the point. When writing a headline, it should be placed in bolded text because that is the primary focus of the release. Another consideration is the elimination of words like “a” and “the” while formulating the copy.
Proper grammar dictates that the first letter of the press release should be capitalized, but all other words should use lowercase words with the exception of proper nouns. The use of keywords in the press release’s title will provide more clout among the major search engines. It is important to specify details such as names and titles for press releases that talk about promoting key members in a company. In press releases that discuss product launches, it is best to mention the company name and product in the headline along with the launch date.
A tip in writing effective headlines is creating short, newsy headlines that one may see in a newspaper. A short, to the punch headline has a better chance of gaining an interest on a larger front.
Press Release Content
It is a common fact that many media outlets do not read the full content of press releases. Due to time constraints, journalists will typically use the information provided in the press release to learn all there is to know about the company offering the information.
Before writing the content of the press release’s body, begin with the date and city in which the press release is originating. As seen with many press release templates, the information provided is usually similar in a condensed form so that it is easily scanned by media outlets.
Press releases that are catered to specific journalists are likelier to be shared by them. Copy in the body of the press release should not exceed 500 words and should be interesting and informative. In fact, the first two sentences should tell the reader what they are looking to know about the press release in general.
The information included in the release should include a memorable quote from a key executive within the company. For promotion announcements, executives may be quoted as touting the efforts and worthiness of the person being promoted. For new location announcements, an executive may offer information about the exciting opportunity of moving to a new locale. Acquiring several quotes from key company members will provide a quality narrative of which to base the press release.
Creating content that is engaging will provide the publicity sought by the business and answer any questions that a journalist or interested party may have.
Common elements in press releases include: headline, date, introduction, body copy, about section, media contact information and the closing section which is typically marked with “###”. All press releases should contain the answers to the questions of who, what, where, when, and why of the news item being printed. These answers should be provided in their specific order of relevance to the event being announced.
Press Release Distribution
In most cases, businesses hire a publicity agent to draft the press release and distribute the information to the newswires. As a result, the newswires generally disseminate the information to the general public in a rewritten, easily consumed format.
Alternately, companies may utilize self publishing their press releases, in which they would create the content and distribute it directly to the newswires.
How a Press Release Works
Press releases draw publicity for businesses that have something newsworthy to tell the media or public in general. Public relations companies use press releases as a tool to provide new and relevant information to the world or niche markets involved.
Technically, press releases are free publicity for a company’s event, product launch, or promotion. PR professionals create press releases that are engaging and informative with the hopes of catching the eye of the media.
The world now involves a 24 hour news cycle and as such, some media companies may look to press releases in order to fill in the gaps in their coverage. Timeliness is a large factor in tying the press release to current events. This works to increase the interest of the media outlet along with the likelihood that the information will be shared. Also of great importance is the persons affected by the information contained in the press release. Creating an engaging press release that announces 10,000 jobs has a higher likelihood of being shared by the media on a local front because it brings many jobs to the areas affected.
Before sending out a press release for distribution, it should be analyzed for errors by a proofreader. The format should be in AP Style for newspapers, but short and adaptable for on air readings if the press release is for a local news station. Lastly, ensure that the content is unique, the sources used are quoted, and the content is easily understandable.