How to Write a Press Release That Supports Your PR Strategy
October 12, 2016
It’s no secret that the press release isn’t the most popular form of writing among journalists and public relations professionals these days. In fact, many have written them off completely and believe they’re dead. However, press releases can still be extremely effective in conveying news and announcements that support your company's PR strategy. When crafted thoughtfully and targeted to the right people, press releases can provide useful information to journalists as they decide which stories to cover.
In general, the goal of a press release is to gain interest from a journalist or publication. Given the crowded nature of today’s media landscape, generating this interest is not as easy as it once was. Gone are the days of news organizations picking up and reporting on any and every release that comes across their inboxes. Going forward, PR professionals need to be strategic when crafting press releases if they want attention from reporters. Here are some best practices for how to write a press release that stands out from the crowd.
It’s okay, and even encouraged, to get creative with your headline, since this can determine whether or not a journalist opens your release at all. However, it’s crucial to ensure that your headline is accurate and relevant to the topic of your release. Journalists can tell when your headline is clickbait, and then your release goes straight to the trash.
Another thing to keep in mind when drafting your headline is to keep it short. Don’t try to fit in every single detail - instead, use a sub-headline if necessary that gives more context. The point of the headline is to generate enough interest for someone to click on the release, so don’t give away too many details before a journalist engages with your content.
If a reporter finds your headline enticing enough to click on, then it’s crucial to have a strong lead paragraph to convince a reporter to keep reading. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:
- Keep it concise, but make sure it carries the whole story. If the beginning of your release is boring, confusing, or leaves out critical details or data points, it’s unlikely that reporters will continue reading.
- Answer who, what, where, when, and why. A good lead will provide all of these details, while still remaining short and to-the-point.
- Beware of burying the lead. Similar to the previous point, avoid putting too much background information right in the beginning. Reporters want to get to the news right away and if it isn’t clear why they should keep reading right away, you’ll lose their interest.
The body of your press release is the place to include additional relevant information that more clearly explains your news and provides context. When writing this section, consider which parts of the background information are the most important and make sure to include them first. Putting the information in this order ensures that readers see your most important takeaways, even if they don’t read your release in its entirety.
As part of your supporting information, it’s a good idea to include any relevant data points that support the news you’re announcing in your release. Data that suggest a new trend can add another layer of newsworthiness to your announcement, so definitely don’t leave it out if you have it.
Another key element of the body is a quote from your company’s spokesperson or other relevant representative. Journalists like to include a human element in their articles, so providing them with a well-written and newsworthy quote makes their jobs easier.
Many brands and organizations use the quote to say that their spokespersons are pleased by their company’s announcement. However, make your release stand out and take advantage of the opportunity to include your spokesperson’s point of view. The quote is the place to include an opinion in your release instead of only facts, so make it count!
What Happens Next?
At the end of your press release, it’s important to give journalists a call-to-action. In other words, what action do you want reporters to take after they’ve read your piece? The best press releases point readers somewhere else at the end so they can continue to engage with your brand. In many cases, this can be as simple as including a link to your website and encouraging readers to explore the page for more information.
Since journalists will always need content for stories, it’s unlikely that press releases are completely disappearing anytime soon. Instead, PR professionals must adapt their PR strategy and approach to ensure their releases don’t get missed among the hundreds that are distributed each day. Overall, following these best practices for how to write a press release will strengthen your results and help it to stand out in today’s crowded media landscape.
WANT MORE? CHECK OUT THESE ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
- Media Relation Guide: How to Get Placed in Top Tier Publications
- Why Media Monitoring Tools Should Be Part of Your PR Strategy
- How to Write A Pitch That Doesn't Get Tossed
HOW ENVIRONICS CAN HELP
Environics is an integrated communications firm with PR in our DNA. We know how to target audiences with compelling messages to elicit action. From developing and implementing your communications strategy to facilitating media training to analyzing the performance of your campaigns, Environics can take your business to a higher plane of growth and profit. We help clients do their homework upfront, by getting the strategy right before investing their time and money in marketing implementation.
Assistant Account Coordinator
Cate’s love of writing and public affairs makes her the ideal public relations professional. She finds a message's ability to persuade change particularly fascinating. A recent graduate of American University, Cate enthusiastically puts her degree in public relations and strategic communications to work!