There are a lot of different ways for businesses to market and promote themselves, but one of the oldest and perhaps most well-known is the classic press release. Used properly, press releases are a great way to get media coverage for your business, and they can lead to some pretty explosive growth. But if you want good press coverage, then you need to master the art of not only writing a press release, but getting it in front of the right people. And while some businesses would hire a PR agency to handle this for them, you can easily do it yourself as well.
What is Press Release?
A press release is an official announcement that a business issues to the press. It can go by a few different names, like ‘press statement’, ‘news release’ or ‘media release’, but the end result is the same. They can be a great way for businesses to get news coverage for events, activities or launches they’re doing, and many regard them as a valuable piece of marketing content. A press release is generally quite short – between 200 and 400 words long – and the aim should be to provide enough information that the publication could run their own story on whatever you’re announcing if they are interested in it. This means you may be contacted for further information by those publications, so be prepared! Press releases usually either come directly from the business, or through a PR company acting for them, and should be used as a way to attract attention to something important and newsworthy happening within a business.
When Should You Use a Press Release?
Technically, a business could publish a press release about anything they wanted. But that doesn’t mean it would be successful. Instead, press releases should be used when a company is doing/has done something ‘newsworthy’ that deserves to be broadcast to a wider audience. Generally, the kind of thing you might put out a press release for would be:
- New product launches
- Opening a new premises
- Mergers or acquisitions
- Hiring of higher up positions
- Charity work
- Winning awards
Tips for Writing Good Press Releases
Is it newsworthy?
This is the question you need to ask yourself before you do anything else. Because if your story isn’t newsworthy, then you’re not going to get the kind of attention you want from it. The easiest way to work this out is to look at the kind of things you like to listen to, watch and read in the media, and compare. Is there anything ‘new’, unexpected or unusual in your story? And more importantly, would anyone outside your business actually care about it?
Craft your headlines
Headlines are always important in content marketing, but when it comes to press releases your headline could be the difference between national coverage and absolutely no one reading it. On top of that, you need a killer email subject line for when you start sending it out. Journalists will get hundreds of emails a day with the title ‘press release’, so if you want to stand out, you need something eye-catching.
Lead with the gold
Just like your headline, your first line needs to be carefully written. Because a busy journalist (or a busy reader) is going to scan your first line, and if it doesn’t grab them they won’t read further. Make sure your first line (or ‘top line’) includes all of the crucial information and angle. It should be around 15-20 words long, and read like the opening of a news story. If you’re not sure how to do this, just watch the news a few times and pay attention to the sentence they use to introduce each new topic.
Get to the point
Press releases are not the place for fluff. They’re one of the content types that require getting straight to the point, and making your point well. Remember that the average press release should be between 200 and 400 words long – around 1 side of A4. That’s not a lot of space to get your message across, so you need to be concise and clear in your writing. If this is something you struggle with, we recommend you hire a copywriter to help.
Include social proof
Quotes are a fantastic tool and an absolute staple in a press release. But you should make sure you’re using them properly. A common rookie error is to use quotes to provide information – but this isn’t interesting and just makes your press release sound forced. Information should be in the article itself, while the quotes should be providing insight, opinion or social proof. They should be short, free from jargon and sound like a real person said them (even if they didn’t).
Don’t forget your details
Another common beginner’s mistake is to spend hours crafting this amazing press release, only to forget to include your contact details in it. Since the whole point of a press release is to generate interest and new customers for your business, not including this crucial information makes the whole thing a bit of a waste of time. So always make sure your contact information is included, even if it’s just in a call to action at the end.
Double and triple check
You never know if a journalist is going to edit or proofread the article you send them, or if they’re just going to copy and paste it before publishing. Either way, it’s not worth the risk of submitting something with mistakes in it. So once you’re happy with your press release, take a step back and double-check everything. Spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Go through this list and make sure you have everything included, and have a few other people read it through if you can.
What should be in a press release?
A press release should generally include the who, what, where, when, and why of a news story. It is also often advisable to include a quote from a key figure in the story.
How Do I Issue a Press Release?
Unfortunately, writing a great press release is only half the battle. Now you need to get it published. The best way to do this is to reach out to specific journalists within publications, rather than sending it out to everyone you can find an email address for. Spend some time finding journalists within publications that tend to focus on the kind of thing you’re doing, or the kind of business you are. This way you stand a better chance of catching their attention.
Another way to grab the attention of a journalist could be to send your press release in the post. Journalists are used to their inboxes overflowing, so submitting yours through an offline channel could be enough to differentiate yourself.
A final tip we can share is to put some time into your actual email to journalists and publications. Don’t just send them a press release and ask to be featured – they won’t read it, and they won’t open the attachment either.. Instead, write an email that includes an outline of your story and where you think it might fit into the publication you’re pitching it to. Then, paste your press release underneath, so the journalist can read it with ease.
At Lion Spirit Media, we know press releases. In fact, a big part of our media relations work is building connections with people in the media and industry experts, and getting your name in front of you. With our help. You can find your ROAR and shout it from the jungle. And what better way to get your story and newsworthy messages out there than hiring a specialist media agency to help you. We can help you create a media strategy, craft the perfect press release and get it out into the world and make a big impact. If you would like to know more, just get in touch with the team today to book your free consultation.