February 16, 2024

How to Write a Press Release: The Definitive Guide

Press releases can be a potent addition to your integrated marketing campaign, building connections across your other channels and enhancing your overall public relations and brand awareness. Knowing how to write an effective press release can enrich a marketer’s competence. 

Press releases feature a distinct set of content, formatting, and style requirements. They are intended for different audiences. With the Internet taking over the news distributing functions, the press release is a powerful tool to draw the attention of journalists, prospects, and customers alike. 

Irrespective of the particular occasion that drives the creation of a press release - launching a new business or product, scaling to a new location, receiving an award, or organizing a company event - this is an excellent way to tell your story and get media coverage. It can be published on a PR site or under a Press, Media, or Press Release tag on the company’s website.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the main features, purposes, and types of press releases. You’ll learn how to write an attention-grabbing piece and approach its distribution so that you can fully benefit from its potential. 

Let’s start by shedding some light on what a press release is and highlighting all the basic information you need to know about what makes a good press release. 

A press release explained

What is a press release?

This is an official statement that is given to the members of the press to make an announcement to the public, providing precise and clear information.

Press releases can also be considered primary and trusted sources of information. They should contain all the necessary details to pique the interest of the targeted audience.

What is the purpose of a press release?

Press releases are designed to trigger interest in targeted members of the media and announce information that is newsworthy in the most unbiased and factual way possible. 

Is a press release different from a news article?

It’s important to distinguish between the two types of publications.

As we discussed above, a press release is an official statement about a newsworthy event or announcement. On the other hand, a news article is not classified as an official statement of any sort and it can cover any topic that is considered to be newsworthy. 

News articles usually discuss broad subjects in detail while press releases focus on one specific topic with an emphasis on the important details. 

Are there different types of press releases?

Press releases can be classified according to their focus and purpose. Here are the seven most common types of press releases:

1. General news

This is the most prevalent type of press release focused on generating complete coverage in both online and offline media. The topic addressed should be newsworthy, and there’s little room for flexibility in the way it’s presented. 

2. Event 

This type of press release deals primarily with the what, where, and when of the announced event. It’s mainly targeted at the media. The ultimate goal is to have all the relevant details published in the media thus building brand presence, alerting the general public, and boosting attendance. 

The information provided should be clear and easy to locate. The most suitable format would be a numbered list or bullet points to ensure readability and easy understanding.

3. Product launch and updates

Writing a press release is the best way to let the world know that you have something new in the market or you’ve expanded and improved the features of a product consumers are already aware of. 

How to write a press release for a product? Highlight the most important product details including specifications or interesting features that customers might like. This is a chance to stand out from all the competitors in the field.

4. Launch, new business, and grand opening

A business launch press release aims to introduce a new company to the public. It builds up a sense of urgency about the upcoming company starting, office opening, or relocation. 

Knowing how to write a press release for a new business will help you establish the importance of the launch and the relevant timeline like the date and place. 

A launch release can even be about an organizational change, concept or theory. It doesn’t need to be about something physical.

5. Executive, staff, and employee change

Large companies or organizations almost always make it a point to let the public know about new hires, especially those in high positions. Executive press releases typically include a detailed biography of the new hire. They are designed and written in a way that inspires confidence among customers, employees, and investors. The press release also includes a photo of the new hire. 

6. Expert position 

An expert position press release is employed when there is a need to build trust and credibility. It is meant to paint a picture that communicates reliability and it also cements the individual or business as a credible source of information for the media at a later date if required. 

This type of press release typically gives an introduction and relevant third-party verification of the highlighted expertise. 

7. Award press release

When it comes to your company's achievements and accomplishments, knowing how to write a press release for an award will help you shine in the media. This type of press release serves to firmly establish your business as an industry expert and authority. 

Your main goal is to inform the public what award you’ve won, why you’ve won it, and how important this award is. You can also share some interesting details about the ceremony. This is an effective way to draw attention to your brand.

How long should a press release be?

A press release should be brief and straightforward. The most adequate length is about an A4 page, or about 300 to 400 words. Three or four paragraphs and a couple of quotes should suffice. 

Include only relevant information that describes who, when, what, and why, and avoid giving too much company background information that doesn’t contribute to the newsworthiness of your press release.

Press release examples

Let’s highlight a few notable examples of press releases:

Contest announcement

Heinz’s contest announcement press release
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This press release by Heinz announced a contest in a fun and vibrant way that got people excited and eager to join. The very headline attracts the attention of the reader. 

The press release was written in a way that made it more newsworthy and more likely to pique the interest of the targeted audience. 

New hires and promotions

eBay’s press release for new hires and promotions 
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The press release from eBay does an excellent job of describing who, why, and when within the first few lines. It paints an interesting picture of the new hire and subtly shows why journalists should be interested in him. The press release is designed and worded in a way that puts customers, investors, and employees at ease while also boosting their confidence in Iannone.

New product/service launch

Happsy’s product launch press release
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This press release by Happsy was designed to announce its launch in a way that is vibrant and inclusive. The press release was also relatable and captivating. It helped the organic mattress manufacturer make a splash and forge a connection with the audience.

Charitable activities

Donate Life America’s charitable activities press release
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Donate Life America's press release is an excellent illustration of how to use links as a way to draw attention to the most essential and newsworthy material. The press release allows journalists the freedom they need to use and expand all of the angles that they consider relevant to their readers.

How to write a good press release

Now that you’ve gained a better idea of the nature, types, and purposes of a press release, we’ll walk you through step-by-step to write one successfully. 

The anatomy of a press release

Press release format

First of all, when creating your press release, keep in mind that press releases follow a largely unified setup, and structuring your content in line with this accepted layout will help improve readability. So, to write a perfect press release, include the following parts: 

  • Your postal address in the top right corner
  • The term "For immediate release," can be placed in the top left corner of the page
  • A captivating headline, which is concise and informative
  • An italicized subheading summarizing the announcement
  • Body copy with the first paragraph starting with the business location and the date in the opening of the first sentence. This introductory paragraph states the announcement, gives some business context and should contain the most important information - the five W’s ( Who, What, When, Where, and Why). The next two or three paragraphs, offering quotes from a business executive or spokesperson explaining the reasons for the announcement and providing additional relevant information a final boilerplate or “About Us” paragraph giving information about your business and products, possibly including the company’s website and a call to action
  • Contact details, including e-mail address, phone number, and social media for further information 

Ready to dive into creating your press release? Let’s start with the planning.

Plan with a fact sheet

Press releases are used to communicate newsworthy information about a business, product, or service. Therefore, planning it in a precise and concise manner and planning is an important part of the writing process. Using a fact sheet is an effective way to produce a well-structured outline and organize your ideas. So, how to write a fact sheet for a press release?

  • Set up your fact sheet in two columns. The fact sheet should include the who, what, when, where, why, and how.  Arrange these questions in the left-hand column and provide clear and brief answers on the right. Use key phrases or short sentences.
  • Include relevant background information. Enter a “Background information” point on the left and use a bulleted list to outline all the details you’d like to cover in your press release.
  • Highlight all the facts you want to include in the press release. Write your fact points in the left column and brief and clear explanatory notes on the right.

Take your time and carefully organize all your points and essential concise explanations in your fact sheet, which will serve as a backbone of your press release. This is a crucial stage of your preparation as every briefly laid argument will be developed in a clear-set and accurate statement in the press release.

Decide on your goal

Well-written and thoughtful press releases can be an effective tool in an integrated PR strategy. To be able to harness their full potential, you need to figure out what you want to achieve. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to think about how people will be using your product or service, and then describe a typical situation. 

The goal you’re striving to achieve through your press release may be to:

Enhance brand awareness

Positioning your business on the bright side will inspire journalists to develop your message into a story and relay it to your target readership.

Maintain key media contacts

Industry media is crucial to the success of your campaigns. The goal of your press releases may be to establish your business as a source of reliable newsworthy information and make journalists turn to you for industry insights. It is important to do your research and target the journalists that have a relevant area of focus. 

Build robust media coverage

This is one of the main goals you could achieve through your press release. To successfully achieve it, you need to construct your content strategically by making sure the information you include matches the areas of coverage of the media you’re aiming at.

Add to other channel campaigns 

Your press release may be focused on supporting an integrated campaign and driving readers to the other channels, such as social media and the company website. In this case, make sure to include information that is consistent across your marketing platforms. 

Improve visibility in search engines

Bearing in mind that newswire releases rank higher in search engines, getting your press release distributed through newswires can help you gain better visibility, which you can easily track. This increases the chances that your business is seen by a great number of potential customers and journalists looking for relevant press releases to publish and potential stories to write. 

So, by publishing fully search engine optimized releases, you can increase the reach of your message, build more backlinks, and improve the ranking of your company website.

Precisely identifying your goal will help you determine what information you need to include, and how to present it in a way that will be helpful for your audience.

Write a headline that's catchy and compelling

This is essential for getting audiences to read your press release. It helps get the attention of the media and consumers. As studies on article read rate show, your headline will be read by 100% of readers, and only 70% will proceed with the first paragraph. Your headline is what can allure your audience to go on reading or, just the opposite, let them jump to the next headline or page.

So, how can you write a catchy press release headline that will make the reader stay and read on?

Make your headline concise and informative

Keep it short and newsworthy. Note that it’s informational, not promotional, releases that are published and noticed. 

A headline shouldn’t exceed 10 words. Also, when indexed by Google and appearing in search results, the maximum character count of your release headline is between 65 and 80 characters, spaces included. Everything beyond this upper limit will be cut off.  

Include keywords and numbers 

The chart below shows how important numbers are. In addition, using the primary keywords will help attract the right readers and appear in the relevant searches. 

36% prefer headlines with numbers
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If you find it difficult to come up with keywords to include in your press release heading, we’ve got your back with tools that include a Free Keyword Generator. Read our blog post on how to use CopyAI's Free Keyword Generator and start your keyword research.

Use active voice

Avoid using passive voice and constructions. This makes your headline sound more direct, compelling, and informative. 

Add a benefit and a news angle

The most effective way to attract your audience is to bring them value. When it comes to press releases, value means trustworthy and reliable information. Offer your readers a unique angle and newsworthy content that will benefit them and signal it in your headline - it’s the promise that your press release body will have to deliver on.

Lead with the most important information

Your opening paragraph should bring the essence of your press release straight to your readers’ attention. Start by identifying the location and the date, providing concise answers to the five key questions: 

  • Who is this story about?
  • What is happening? 
  • Where is it happening? 
  • When will/did it occur?
  • Why is it important? 

A good rule of thumb is to create a sense of impact, timeliness, relevance, and novelty. By doing so, you’re making your release newsworthy and bringing value to the reader.

To do so, you sometimes may include interesting and surprising details instead of the 5 W’s in the first paragraph, such as

  • A common problem and a solution
  • Intriguing insights into your business activities and the reasons behind them
  • An engaging question evoking curiosity and interest

Keep your message simple and straightforward and avoid exhaustive details that will lose your readers’ focus. 

Include quotes 

It’s time to bring your news to life and give it a human, first-person touch. Quotes are a mandatory element of a press release and may help the journalists create a more vivid picture of the impact of your news. 

The goal of the quotes in your press release is to showcase the thought process or the effect of what you’re announcing. Keep them to one or two sentences to follow the concise format and avoid overloading your release and shifting the primary focus away from your core news.

Include a quote from a representative. It could be a key stakeholder in your company like a person from your executive team, a project leader, or someone that is directly impacted by your announcement. 

Quoting key figures and authorities helps to make your press release more credible. It adds personality and humanizes the company, giving it a face and voice. Using the language your audience speaks builds proximity, understanding, and involvement. 

You can use this space to talk about why this news is important to the industry or community at large. Underline the relevance and the positive impact of your news. Using a quote to convey the timeliness of your announcement builds engagement. 

Choose a clear and concise format

As we’ve already mentioned, the purpose of a press release is to provide reliable, concise, and easy-to-understand information. The most effective way to do so is by implementing a correspondingly clear and concise format. This means that you need to follow the best-established practices and create your press release using easily identifiable sections:

  • A headline and subtitle
  • A body with an introductory paragraph, two or three body paragraphs, and a boilerplate at the end of the press release 
  • Contact details
  • A signifier of the release end, such as "###" 

When writing your press release content, make sure to select your words precisely and thoughtfully. Carefully build grammatically impeccable sentences, avoiding deadwood. 

Keep in mind that ensuring the presence and the good organization of the relevant information and enhancing readability is your major focus in creating a press release. Choosing a clear and concise format and getting straight to the point will help your readers easily find the important details and comprehend your message. This holds true for both the dgeneral public and journalists that are to expand your release into an article. 

How can you achieve clarity and conciseness of format in practice? The most commonly preferred layout is the inverted pyramid. Used in communications and journalism since the second half of the 19th century, it matches the purposes of the press release and helps streamline your writing. 

The inverted pyramid style in journalism
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The inverted pyramid style of a press release
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The inverted pyramid offers an effective way to structure and share information in a fast-paced reality and can help you get your message through to your audience.

Make your press release only one page long

Most press releases are only one page, or about 400 words, long, but there are a few exceptions where they can extend to two pages. You should only go beyond one page if you strongly feel that you have not added all the critical information that you need for your press release to convey the desired message. 

Keep in mind that most people are not willing to invest too much time reading a press release. The safest bet is staying in the middle ground where it’s neither too long nor too short. If your press release is too short, there is a high probability that you’ve missed some critical information and you should review it. On the other hand, if it’s too long you may have added irrelevant information and you risk losing the attention of the reader.

Include a call to action

A CTA is a statement that identifies the next step for your target audience and prompts them to take it. What is the set goal of your press release? Is it to drive traffic and gain more subscribers? Or to increase sales and brand awareness? Include a CTA in all of your press releases in line with your specific current goal. 

Let’s take a look at some effective examples. 

  1.  Drive Traffic 
  • Share this item
  • Visit our website
  • Read our latest special report
A press release CTA to drive traffic
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  1. Gain more followers and subscribers
  • Sign up for our newsletter
  • Get weekly tips 
  • Attend our event
  • Become a part of our community

A press release CTA to gain more subscribers
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  1. Increase sales
  • Call us now
  • Purchase now
  • Find your closest store
A press release CTA to boost sales
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Pick only one CTA per release so you can avoid confusing your target audience. Check out our Free Website Call To Action Generator to help you produce the most appropriate CTA for your press release.

Include contact information

Your press release is intended to evoke interest in your readers, be it the general public and potential customers or reporters. It’s part of your overall marketing strategy and is designed to help interconnect your marketing channels. To achieve your goal, always make sure to include contact information. This will enable your audience to follow your brand across platforms, contact you for additional details, and respond to your message.

Remember to include all the relevant contact information and take advantage of multichannel communication:

  • Point of contact, providing the name or the title of the individual that journalists or anyone else with a query can contact 
  • Email and mailing address to offer a direct connection to the point of contact
  • Phone number to give anyone who would like to get in contact more options
  • Social profile that comes in handy if anyone needs to look you up and check your credibility
  • Company website to build brand awareness and help journalists and any other interested parties get in contact with you 

You can also include a link to any downloadable media assets.

The purpose of adding contact information is to give reporters/journalists all the information they need to get in contact with you. The contact information typically appears at the end of a press release, but you can also insert it in a relevant section of the body.

Now that we’ve gone through all the steps, you may be wondering how long it should take to write a press release. It may take you long hours in the beginning but as you get used to the specificities of the process, you’ll manage to create your pieces faster. And still, you shouldn’t compromise on quality - this is your chance to shine and you shouldn’t waste it rushing the writing.

If you want to speed up the process and craft powerful content, check out our press release intro tool to save yourself hours of striving to get it the right way. 

How to distribute your press release

One of the main purposes of a press release is to gain traction and reach as many people in the target audience as possible.

Here are a few ways that you can use to effectively distribute your news release:

1. Submit to local papers 

Submitting your press release to local papers will help you gain more traction and more engagement. This is even more important if your target audience is local. Submitting to local papers will also give your press release the credibility that other forms of distribution may not give you. Make it a point to include a well-written pitch that highlights why your release should be featured in the local paper.

2. Use press release distribution services with targeting options

Distributing your press release at random without any sort of targeting is a recipe for disaster. If you do that, you risk getting very little engagement and reporters will not give your press release a second glance. The distribution service that you choose to work with should offer targeted, industry-specific journalist email lists. They can also target your press release according to the trends exhibited by readers. Another viable option is targeting using demographics. The distribution service should also be able to target media outlets that will be capable of reaching your required audience.

3. Search for local news sites and submit directly to them

You can also send your press release to journalists from local news sites who are most likely to be interested in covering your story. Provide a pitch that highlights all the interesting or valuable points to pique their interest and convince them that your story is worth sharing. 

You also have the option to distribute your press release to bloggers and influencers in the relevant field. If you know any bloggers or influencers who may be fascinated by what you have to announce, do make it a point to send it to them. They may decide to post it on their blogs or share it with their large following, which translates into more engagement for you. When you reach out to influencers or bloggers, give them a summary of your press release and share your contact information as well in case they need to reach you for more information. 

Bonus tips

Time your press release carefully. The exact day of the week matters more than you might think. You should determine which day of the week and which time will give you the most coverage. Familiarizing yourself with a few stats will make your life much easier.

Here are a few statistics from a CRM provider that will help you make the best choices:

  • Thursdays are the perfect days to distribute your press release with the highest average open rate of 26%.
  • The worst days are Wednesdays and Fridays with an open rate of only 15%.
  • The best time for distribution is between 10 AM and 2 PM. During this time, editors open 33% of all emails.

Takeaway: Writing a press release is easy if you have the right tools and resources at your disposal

Press releases are a powerful tool to add to the efficiency of your marketing efforts. Knowing how to write a good press release and using the proper tools will help you streamline and accelerate the process.

Preparation is a key step in creating your press release. Study all aspects and perspectives of the object you want to announce and plan the details to include as you have to be concise and clear. 

Make sure to be specific about your information and present it in an objective and interest-provoking way, bringing value to your readers. Keep in mind that it has to be accurate, reliable, and newsworthy.

Allow plenty of time to write it as this is a creative process that requires careful word selection and attention to detail.

Be clear and concise to ensure good readability and an easy understanding of your content. This is essential for the successful performance of your press release.

If you’re not sure what to say and how to say it right, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Join our Facebook group or just shoot us an Email. Our experts will be happy to help you. 

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