Writing a Press Release: Tips on How to Pack a Punch

30 June 2022

Blog Business Communications Marketing Communications Social Sector Communications

Every day thousands of press releases exchange hands but only a small fraction of them secure a spot in the media. Press releases continue to be a top source of information for journalists, with 71 percent of journalists saying they prefer content in the form of press releases from brands.

Perfecting the way you write a press release is hence important to get the desired attention from journalists and promote your company in the media. 

Before you get down to drafting a press release, here are some questions you need to ask yourself. 

  1. What are the potential frequently asked questions from the media? Place yourself in the shoes of a journalist. Think about the type of questions and details that will run through her mind while going through your press release. Make it a habit to put it to the ‘5Ws/1H’ (what, who, when, where, why and how) test. Let’s use the example of a product release and see how this works. ‘What’ is the product’; ‘who’ is the target audience; ‘when’ and ‘where’ is it available; ‘why’ is the news relevant; ‘how’ is it different from the others in the market? Not every part of the 5W/1H is relevant for each press release. But once you put your content to this test, you will know what to include and what to skip.
  2. Is it relevant to the editor? The editor or news producer will be keen to cover your news only if it is relevant to their readers or viewers. So bring out the value that your news will provide to the target audience. Essentially, what is relevant to the reader or viewer can be considered as relevant to the editor or TV news producer.
  3. Who will you be pitching it to? A common mistake is to consider the media as a homogenous unit. There are journalists who specialise in finance or lifestyle or politics. There are publications that focus on local news or are known for long, research-based features.So do some research and compile a list of media contacts relevant to your industry.You also need to be creative and think of potential story angles to widen your reach – for example, is there a social angle that you can explore to a tech news story? If yes, who else besides tech journalists will be interested in your press release?
  4. Is the language easy to understand? Ensure that the use of jargon is minimised. Avoid industry-specific terms that will be challenging for a reader with limited knowledge of that industry. If you must use jargon, remember to explain it. If your press release covers a topic that is fairly new in the market, provide hyperlinks to articles on that topic on your website for the reader to clarify his doubts. In most cases, a 10th grade stood needs to be able to understand your press release. But there can be exceptions to the rule.
  5. Do you have the right keywords? Optimize your press release for search engines with a few keywords that are relevant to your readers. Readers will be able to find your press release easily by searching for selected keywords after it gets published.

After you have gone through the above checklist, create a quick content outline to capture the main points that need to be covered. Put the most important point right on top and organise the rest of the information in a descending order of importance.

Read our previous blog post on developing content for earned, owned and paid media. 

Here are some tips to help you write killer press releases.

  1. The title: It needs to convey the essence and purpose of your press release. The best headlines are those that successfully combine the news with your value proposition. Use action words, and write the headline in the present tense. Avoid abbreviations, jargon and more than one long word in the headline.It is a good practice to include a sub-headline that provides additional information. It could either explain the headline or introduce a supplementary angle.
  2. Introduction: Divide the press release into three main sections. The first section is the lead. It is your elevator pitch, the hook that will lead the reader to the other sections. Generally, this section answers the ‘what.’
  3. Body copy: The subsequent paragraphs contain information in a decreasing order of importance.
  4. Spokesperson’s quote: Add a quote from your company’s spokesperson in your press release. You may consider providing some market context to the announcement in the spokesperson’s quote. It helps lend some depth to the write-up.
  5. Contact details: Include the email address and phone number of your media contact at the bottom. This could be the corporate communications head or the marketing head.
  6. Boilerplate: End the press release with a standardised paragraph about your company. This is a para that summarises the company’s business. Since it will be used repeatedly, refrain from using data or other information that is likely to change quickly.

Press Release Distribution: Some Useful Tips

Once a press release has been crafted, it will go through a few rounds of approvals and edits within the organisation. If you have mentioned a customer or a partner, it will of course need the concurrence of that company. The content needs to be proofread once it gets finalised to ensure that no errors have slipped in. 

Now it is time to blast it out. How are you going to disseminate it? 

If you have engaged a public relations agency, you can leave this part to them. You also have the option of signing up with an online wire agency. It is a good idea to supplement this effort with a targeted approach. Compile a list of media contacts and email them your press release with a personalised note.

Some tips to ensure your press release gets a good response:

  1. Spend some time researching the right media contacts or publications. Besides beat reporters who cover your industry, there could be others in a media house who have an interest in it. Make it a habit to note down names of journalists who write about your industry once in a while.
  2. Develop genuine relationships with journalists. Follow them on social media and be in touch with them on a regular basis, and not only when you have a press release for publication. 
  3. If you’re using an online wire agency, do some trials to see which time of the day gets the best response. Or which days of the week are better?
  4. Even if you use an agency to do the dissemination, reach out to journalists you know with a link to the published press release. As with every email, ensure your subject line is enticing and to the point. 

Read our earlier blog post on how a content writing agency can help you improve the quality of the content you produce. 

Getting a press release right is difficult. It needs to be short and crisp, deliver all the necessary information and be in line with your overall market positioning. Whether it packs a punch depends on how well you bring out the value proposition – what is in it for a reader – in as powerful a way as possible. 

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