What is a Press Release and how do you write one that will get attention?
A press release is a document that goes to journalists telling them about a product, service, company, person or event. The goal is to grab the attention of the journalist and encourage them to write editorial content based on what you have sent.
Press releases need to:
- Communicate basic, newsworthy facts in an interesting way.
- Provide enough information for a journalist to be able to pick up your story and write about it. They will need contact details so they can get in touch if they need more information.
There is no guarantee that a press release will generate positive coverage. Nor does it provide you with control over the content. It is up to the journalist what they decide to write about. A good press release will convey the messages you want to communicate in a way which is very likely to be picked up, successfully conveying the values of your brand. If this happens, then the story you have ‘pitched’ has landed successfully.
Remember, press releases are targeted at journalists with the aim of securing objective media coverage. This kind of coverage is seen as having more value than paid for space as it has been generated purely on its own merit. If you want to have full control over the content, you need to pay for advertising.
How to Write a Press Release
There is a standard press release format journalists and news desks expect. By following this format, you’re giving your press release the best chance of being picked up.
Get Straight to the Point
A press release should clearly convey the following:
- Who it is about
- What they have done/are doing
- Where this happened/is happening
- When things happened / will be happening
- Why this matters
The most important information comes at the beginning, with further detail later in the press release. This is known as the inverted pyramid.
It’s a good idea to have a press release template specifically for your brand, with your contact details and company information, that you work from in the same style every time you write a press release. You can find templates online which you can work from.
Stick to the facts
Press releases convey information, so use relevant and timely statistics. Stick to the facts, don’t use opinions, conjecture or overly descriptive, ‘flowery’ language.
There needs to be a hook
The hook is what makes your story interesting and newsworthy. It could be an announcement of jobs being created, an award, a new technical innovation or investment in the business. The hook needs to be obvious to the journalist from the headline and opening line of the press release. Journalists are under huge time pressures, so if they have to dig around to find the information they need, it’s less likely that your story will land.
Supply high-quality images
Pictures are an important part of any news article or piece of press coverage, whether in a magazine or online.
Images which you should consider having on file:
- A photo of the person who is ‘the face of the organisation’
- Images of the product or service you are talking about (where relevant)
- Your company logo (in vector and jpg format if possible)
- Images for print purposes need to be hi-res, around 300 dpi. Magazines often require far higher quality images. For online only coverage, you can get away with lower resolution files.
Always Provide Your Contact Details
You need to provide contact details at the end of the press release so that journalists can get in touch if they have more questions or want to do an interview. Make sure you are available to respond if they get in touch, editorial deadlines are usually very tight and journalists won’t have time to keep chasing if they can’t get hold of you.
Gaynor Simpson is PR Manager for Women’s Business Centre and Women’s Enterprise Scotland, and is a successful self-employed PR consultant.
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