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10 Tips for Writing a Great Press Release

Megan Prejzner
Megan Prejzner

Knowing how to write an effective press release is essential to getting your company news out to reports and customers.

A press release can be the catalyst for news coverage and stories about your organization and its corresponding announcements. But for a press release to get noticed, it must be attention-grabbing and informative at the same time.

Whether you are announcing a new product, have an event you want to promote, or want to spread the news of a new hire or promotion, a well-written press release can help you break through the noise and act as a timely hook to get the coverage you're looking for.

Understanding how to write an effective press release is critical if you want to share your latest news and announcements with reporters and customers alike. But when it comes to writing a press release, it's easy to get a bit of writer's block if you don't have a template to follow.

As you put the proverbial pen to paper and start writing, follow these 10 tips to craft the perfect press release.

1. Simplify and prioritize.

Before you even begin writing, it's important to prioritize your message. What story are you trying to tell? Why does this matter? A press release should share the most important information in a clear and concise manner. Simplify your message by focusing on the core audience takeaway and why they must know about this news, now. Then lead the audience to your website, social media channels, etc. for more information beyond the release.

2. Use the inverted pyramid.

With a focused idea of your story, it's time to write. Picture an upside-down pyramid. At the very top and widest point, you share the most important, newsworthy information. As you move to the next layers, you'll taper from important information to supplemental details to general background information. You follow this approach in order to ensure because the further along you go the more people stop reading. Make sure you have the important info where most people are reading. 

3. Craft a catchy, informative headline.

A lot of readers won't read beyond your headline. Pause here and read that again. A lot of readers will not keep reading beyond the headline, so make sure it tells a clear, succinct, informative story. In six to nine words, you want to capture the attention of a journalist and give them enough intrigue to read your release. Reporters often receive hundreds, if not thousands, of emails a day from people pitching stories just like yours. Give them a reason to open and read yours. Also, if you are sharing your release through a press release distribution service, you will want to intrigue your customers but also account for those who may not read beyond the headline.

4. Add a solid subhead.

For many, figuring out how to tell a story in just six words can be a tough task. This is where a subhead comes in. Immediately following your press release headline, you will want to include important follow-up information in a one-line, 10- to 12-word phrase that expands on the intrigue from your headline. You've hooked them with the headline; keep them reading with a subhead that provides additional context. When formatting this in a press release template, it goes right below the headline and is typically italicized.

5. Answer the 5 W's in the first paragraph.

Remember in the headline when we said a lot of people don't read past the headline? For those that do make it past the headline, a large number will not read past the first paragraph. Knowing that you want to make your lead count. In two or three sentences, answer the five W's: who, what, where, when and why. You'll want to share the most important details in the very first paragraph. This not only ensures reporters do not have to sift through paragraphs to find the most important information for their stories but also provides general audiences with the most important information upfront if they do choose to stop reading.

6. Include quotes that add value.

Quotes are a great way to provide context to your release in a way that is not as bulleted and to the point. It's the color commentary to the otherwise straightforward facts. This means it's a great opportunity to add value in the release by including a quote from a project lead, executive, customer or another relevant source. Make sure the quote adds value. For example, instead of saying, "I am really excited to announce this new product," you could say, "This product has been in development for more than 18 months, and after hearing directly from our customers that this is the solution they were looking for, we cannot wait to roll it out to new customers and hear what they think!" The latter includes information on product development and consumers. Be sure to always add value.

7. Close it with the content, contacts and CTAs.

As you wrap your release, don't forget to include relevant information for where your readers can find more information and your contact information. Think about what action or next step you want readers to take with this information. Do you want them to email you with questions? Visit a website to learn more about the event or product/news? Sign up for a webinar or course? Be sure to include all of this information as you write.

8. Capitalize on SEO and keywords.

Once you have your release written, take advantage of the opportunity to help your search engine optimization (SEO) by integrating keywords and two or three relevant links into your release. An easy way to add links is to highlight your company name and product/webinar/news announcement and link readers back to those pages on your website. For SEO, always reread your content and build out keywords where you can naturally roll them into the conversation. But don't force it. SEO is a great supplement to the release, but the news announcement is always the priority.

9. Keep it short and sweet.

Press releases should be around 600 words. At times, there may be a need to include more words to share your news, but a general rule of thumb is to keep it short and sweet. Never use five words if three will do. Eliminate incidental adverbs, those pesky words that end in "ly" but aren't essential. Additionally, always proofread for brevity.

10. Share your news release with media. 

OK, so you've crafted the perfect release and find yourself asking, what's next? This is the whole reason we're here – to share your story with the masses. Besides sharing your release through a press release distribution service, like a PR Newswire, you'll also want to share it via email directly to reporters. Reach out to journalists, bloggers, editors or news producers by sending them an email about your release. Craft a brief email introduction to the reporter that shares why you're reaching out and lets them know they can find more information in the press release. Then copy and paste your news release into the body of your email, typically below your signature.

Press releases are a great way to communicate a news announcement with the media and to keep audiences informed of happenings with your organization. They are meant to pique interest and inform, and are often the first step in getting news coverage.

Remember to hook readers with a catchy start and then reel them in with the prioritized content to really drive results from your press release.

Image Credit: undrey / Getty Images
Megan Prejzner
Megan Prejzner Member
I work with small-to-medium size businesses to help launch their brand onto the map with brand strategy, marketing and public relations. Whether an independent entrepreneur, an emerging brand or an international organization, I lead with one goal: drive creative marketing solutions that help your brand push beyond what is to unlock the true success of what it can be.