Press releases are as old as the PR profession but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring or not useful.
If you are new to PR or have no experience in the field, you may be wondering, “What is the point of a press release and why is it called a press release?”
Press releases are primarily treated by reporters as a backgrounder for important news announcements. They provide provide media with the cold, hard facts of an announcement, parties involved, verbiage of how the company likes to be described, who to contact, etc. Thus, they are releases for the press.
There are other terms used for a press release but a new one to arrive on the scene is the social news release (SNR) which is a basically a press release with social sharing capabilities. It’s also a little different than a press release because rather than just being media facing, it’s also written for audience of choice so that they may be inclined to share the news via Twitter, linkedIn and/or Facebook.
Before writing your release, ask yourself is this information newsworthy and be honest in your response.What makes something newsworthy? If you hesitate on this question then most likely your “news” isn’t worthy of a release. If you consider the announcement to be a company milestone or can honestly say that an audience whether consumer or b2b would want to know about it then take the time to write a press release.
Now that you have determined whether your news warrants a release, it’s time to put one together.
There is one secret to writing a great press release: simplicity. Sure it’s fun to be clever and do a play on words but don’t go overboard and add a bunch of fluff. Reporters have limited time to read your news and they will toss it aside if they can’t digest the premise within the first couple of sentences.
Generally speaking a press release contains the following:
Headline:This summarizes your news and tells them what you are announcing. Try to keep it to seven words or less.
Sub-head:This elaborates on the news shared in the headline, calling out why the announcement is newsworthy.
Date/City of Origination:Include the date of the news announcement as well as where the news is originating from.
Intro paragraph:Again, summarize the news here as well as elaborate a little further on details not yet mentioned.
Background info paragraphs: These graphs share all information pertinent to the announcement. Include all details a reporter might want to know. Don’t over share though.
Quote(s):Most releases contain quotes from the CEO or executive leading the charge as well as any partners involved. These aren’t generally used by media but it does help with SEO around the executive and provides an option to media who don’t have time for an interview.
Boilerplate:This is a general summarization of your company or organization. These are usually listed at the bottom of the press release.
Media Contact:Always include the name, email and phone number of someone the press can contact.
Images/Video:Visuals always make news more enticing.
Hyperlinks:Include links back to important web sites to search optimize your company’s website and news.
Social Media Pitch:This is specific to SNRs. Make your pitch clever and short so that others will be inclined to open the link or want to share it with others.
Bottom line: Short and to the point is always easy on the eyes and mind.
That’s about it for the basics. Good luck!