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How to Write a Press Release

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Knowing how to craft a compelling press release is a valuable skill. A well-written press release will inspire other journalists, bloggers, and reporters to share your company’s news, potentially generating a great deal of interest in your products, services, and brand. Make sure you’re writing your press releases properly, so they’ll serve their purpose well.

Understand the Purpose

Image via Flickr by NS Newsflash

It’s important to understand the primary goal when you’re writing a press release. While this might seem straightforward to some, it’s a point that’s often overlooked or even blatantly ignored. A press release is not an opportunity to write a lengthy editorial about your latest product or give users an engaging play-by-play of your most recent event. Press releases aren’t meant for blog readers or the common consumer, so they shouldn’t be written in flowy prose.

A press release is designed to engage the media. It should offer other writers the essential information they need to create their own content about your company. Press releases do live in the public domain, so they may be accessed occasionally by loyal shoppers or prospective customers, but they’re not ultimately designed for this audience. Write for the media to ensure that your press release serves its purpose effectively.

Craft Your Headline Carefully

Your headline is essential, as this is the tidbit that will convince writers to choose your announcement over hundreds of others flooding the online space. A well-crafted headline for a press release has the following characteristics:

  • Concise: Keep it as short as possible and never longer than one sentence.
  • Informative: Share a valuable piece of information.
  • Intriguing: Highlight why this announcement is interesting.

Your headline shouldn’t be a vague teaser that leaves out critical information. Consider a potato chip company announcing its innovative new flavor. A good headline for the press release might read, “Chip Co. Hits New Heights on the Scoville Scale With Ghost Pepper Corn Chips.” This provides enough detail for the reader to grasp the essential scope of the story while still drawing them in to learn more. Avoid headlines that are too general or sales-oriented, such as “Chip Co. Likes it Hot!” or “Test Your Taste Buds With Our Hot New Options.”

Focus on Essential Information

Remember that your press release is all about convincing a reporter, blogger, or influencer to share your story. Tell them immediately why they should care about the information and why their readers will care as well. Don’t waste your word count on a lengthy introduction to the topic. Dive right in to make the essential information easy to find.

Your reader is likely skimming the content with an eye for hard facts. They can embellish the information with their own prose later, tailoring it to suit their audience. Don’t bother with dressing up the details at this point. Stick to the core elements.

Omit Promotional Descriptions

A press release can ultimately drive sales by spreading the word about your company, products, and services, but it’s not a piece of sales copy in itself. Make sure you’re not describing your items the way you would for a product catalog. The details may sound a bit drier and less compelling, but they will be more appropriate to the tone of a press release.

Write in the third person rather than the first or second person. Even if you’re drafting the press release in-house, you shouldn’t refer to the company as “we” or “us.” You also want to avoid addressing your reader directly, as this adds the distinct flavor of a sales pitch. Don’t say, “You’ll feel the burn from these hot new chips.” Instead, you might note, “Nine out of 10 taste testers rated these as the hottest chips they’d ever experienced.” Stay factual and not opinionated for the best press release copy.

Keep It Concise

The ideal press release is less than 400 words long. You want to keep it short enough to fit on one page or even in one screenshot, depending on your screen. Every sentence should impart new, valuable information. Re-read your finished press release carefully and evaluate each sentence on its own, asking the following questions:

  • Does this sentence share important information?
  • Is this new information that’s not found elsewhere in the release?

If the answer to either question is no, you should delete the sentence. A press release is no place for fluff. While you can write in an engaging tone that’s appropriate for a news story, you shouldn’t veer off course as you might in an editorial piece or a blog. If you’re struggling to write a press release with the right tone, consider turning to a content management company for the professional voice you’re looking for.

Make It Quotable

One thing reporters love is a good quote. Make sure your press release includes one or two cogent quotes from relevant sources. This will give other writers all the building blocks they need to draft an engaging piece of their own from the information you provide. If you’re searching for the right quote, consider talking to project leads or members of the company’s executive team. If your press release relates directly to an important individual, reach out and get their thoughts on it, whether they’re speaking about the award they just received or their new agenda following a promotion.

Use the most compelling spokespeople available to you. While you may want to reach out to half a dozen individuals for quotes, you should ultimately use quotes from no more than one or two of them. If you have any recognizable names on your list, such as a CEO or a celebrity, these are the best options. However, you shouldn’t include a quote simply because it comes from a big name. You must also make sure that it’s relevant to the piece.

Use press releases mindfully when they’re appropriate to the situation. Make sure your topic is truly newsworthy, with interesting details that others will want to share. If you’re struggling to craft a press release that sticks to valuable information, you may not have enough of it to generate a release on that topic. Pick your content wisely to create compelling releases that do their job right.

About the author

Mandi Rogier