What is the purpose of a press release? As the name indicates, it is an official statement from an organization to the news media. The topic should be newsworthy and something a press outlet might consider publishing or incorporating into a story.
In addition to being a communications tool, press releases should be considered marketing content. They can be used in multiple ways, and they continue to be accessible online to your current and potential clients as well as potential partners and employees. Note that you may need more than one release if targeting different audiences.
In a future article, we will provide a comprehensive strategy to make sure your press release works for you and your goals. For now, let’s discuss how to write a strong press release.
You can pay public relations or marketing professionals to write a press release, and chances are, they will do an excellent job. But if you would like to write one yourself, follow these steps. A press release is fairly traditional and contains components and style considerations you should include.
Comparing a press release to a newspaper article can help. A newspaper article is written as an inverted pyramid, where the most important, broadest information is shared first and the specific details come later. It just makes sense: reporters and editors know most probably aren’t going to read 1,000 words about a fire in a warehouse in the business district, but we will probably read the first couple of paragraphs to see what happened. Those five important news reporting questions—who? what? when? where? why?—need to be answered early on in a news article and should be answered early in your press release too.
Top of the Page
It’s easy to identify when you are reading a press release because they generally follow a particular format. There is leeway for how you construct the body of your press release, but for the heading, title, and first paragraph, you should follow the expected template.
At the top of your document, insert your business logo.
You’ll want to include language that identifies the document as a press release. There are a few ways to do this—for example, you can just type “Press Release.” You can also use language such as “For Immediate Release” or “For Immediate Distribution.” Another option is to combine the two: “Press Release” and underneath, “For Immediate Distribution.”
The last thing to make sure you have in this section is your press contact. It might be you, a responsible member of your team, or an agency representative. If a member of the press wants to get in touch to ask further questions, make it easy for them to reach out by providing the contact’s name, title, phone number, and email address.
Headline and Subheadings
Your headline is a spoiler: it should state whatever you are announcing in this press release. Be sure to mention your company name use present-tense verbs, and keep it pithy. Use title case as well: capitalize the first word as well as important words other than articles (a, the) and most prepositions (of, for, etc.). Here are two examples:
1. XYZ Limousine Announces New Location Opening SoonBoth headlines are perfectly fine, but the second one has a more intriguing active verb and a description—“state-of-the-art”—which is more interesting than “new.” Subheadings are optional, but they can be helpful if it’s hard to summarize your news in just the headline. Note that subheadings are italicized.
2. XYZ Limousine Reveals New State-of-the-Art Facility
ABC Transportation Welcomes New General Manager Henry Smith Industry Veteran Brings 22 Years of Experience to Springfield-area Operator
Your headline is also a good opportunity to incorporate your keywords, so consider that as well.
Here is where we think like a newspaper writer. Your first paragraph should provide an overall summary of your news and answer the questions “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” and “why” about your topic. This is your chance to convince a press contact that your news is worth sharing, so if you can find an angle that makes it newsworthy, be sure to include it. For example, if you are announcing your purchase of green or electric vehicles, you could mention ongoing concerns about climate change.
Before you start writing the paragraph, though, start with a dateline that includes location and date:
Manchester, N.H. – November 1, 2022 – LMNOP Car Service announced today that ...
In the second through third or fourth paragraphs, share any facts and figures you have related to your topic, such as the fuel economy of the new vehicles you purchased or a short bio of your new hire. If you have multiple statistics, feel free to use bullet points—people like to be able to skim to find the highlights. You can also share more about a third party, such as a charity you are supporting or a new training system you have implemented.
Also, this is the part of the press release where you’ll include quotes from appropriate parties: usually the owner of the business at minimum and one other person if relevant. You can set off your quotes with quotation marks or by indenting or using formatting like bold or italicized text. Press releases often end with a quote.
At the end of the press release, include an About section for your business. Write two to four sentences about your business, when it was founded, what its purpose is, and where it is located. Once you’ve written it, use it for all future press releases.
When you write your press release, be sure to add hyperlinks throughout. Also, if possible, include a photo. It can be a headshot of you and/or another relevant person or a photo of an event.
Three Pound Signs
Back in the days of wire services, press releases ended with three pound signs (###) centered on the page.
While it’s not technically necessary to do that today, it is still traditional to include them. We recommend you continue that tradition as you write your press releases. [CD1122]
Stephanie Carnes is the Spotlight Director for The LMC Groups. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.