A press release is a concise but compelling news story that is used to announce a new company, service, or product.
Since press releases are easy to distribute across digital marketing platforms and to major news outlets, it’s a popular way for PR professionals to reach a vast number of people in a short period of time.
They are generally very easy to create, publish and distribute, so a PR firm may release multiple press releases on any given day or week, for a wide variety of clients.
Press releases are nothing new – in fact, before the Internet and digital marketing, a press release was one of the only ways to reach a journalist and, if deemed worthy by the news source, would be published in print.
But in recent years, a press release is typically released online and, when optimized properly, can be used to boost the SEO of a website in order to help the company connect with potential customers, investors, media professionals or other parties that would be interested in their services or business solutions.
While press releases are effective, their lifespan is relatively short. In a matter of weeks or even days, they become old news. A top-notch PR agency would therefore need to know the best places to submit a press release to yield an interview for their client. But that is the ultimate benefit of a press release – earned media attention for your business and brand at no cost whatsoever.
Benefits of a Digital Press Release
In the age of digital marketing, there are a tremendous number of benefits from having your press release live online.
Hyperlinks: This is just one feature that can be added into your press release that will lead users right to other webpages related to the company, product or service.
Keywords: Optimizing your press release with various keywords that relate to the company and brand can help ensure this press release receives even more eyes on it from a search engine results page (SERP).
Shareable: You can share the press release across all of your social media handles, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This also allows for the possibility of the press release going viral and generating a lot of buzz for your client.
Accessibility: Once the press release is on the Internet, it’s there to stay. This means that it becomes a permanent piece of information for the company, and journalists will be able to locate it once again in the future.
Components of a Press Release
A press release should contain all of the pertinent information that a journalist would need in order to produce a story. Before you get started, ask yourself the following, “What do I want this press release to accomplish?”
Knowing your ultimate goal is key. For example, do you want to generate brand awareness? Achieve more clicks and leads for a website? Get more subscribers for a monthly newsletter? Target potential customers for a new product or service?
Once you have all the information you need to start writing, including the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where and why), these are the main components of an effective press release:
Headline: Having an eye-catching, attention-grabbing headline is critical. It’s the first and most important element of a press release, and it should make the reader want to “click” into the article to read more. It has to both arouse interest, without exceeding a maximum number of characters to prevent the headline from becoming truncated in the SERP.
Date: The journalist needs to know that they are receiving the most updated, latest information. The date needs to be included at the top of the press release.
Introduction: This is the most important paragraph in the entire press release, because it should say everything that the journalist needs to know in just a couple sentences. Journalists are busy – they don’t have time to read every press release to completion. Once you’ve grabbed their attention with the headline, the introduction paragraph should tell them why they should keep paying attention.
Body: This is where you will provide details and information in more depth. You can provide statistics, quotes, and any other pieces of intel that can be used in a story or feature.
Boilerplate: Here is where you can provide a short description of the company, product or service. You can include details such as when the brand was founded, its overall impact, the company’s vision for the future, and so forth. If it’s a digital press release, you would also include links to the company’s social media platforms.
Lastly, you’ll want to include a swift call to action, along with media contact details – including the name and email of a PR professional – so that journalists can get in touch for an interview.
What Makes a Press Release Effective?
Once you’ve completed the writing process, take some time to check if it has all of the elements that makes for a good and effective press release. Ask yourself the following:
Is it useful to a journalist or news source? In order for your press release to yield actual results, it needs to be both informative and compelling. It should give all of the useful information, while also leading readers to a link for even more information.
Is it straightforward and to the point? In a press release, there’s no time for jargon or excessive wordiness. The reader needs to understand the message quickly and efficiently. It should be scannable, using bullet points, bold lettering or underlining wherever possible so that the reader can quickly scan the entire page.
Is it eye catching? The headline should immediately capture their attention. Use of images and social media can add extra color to the page. A thought-provoking quote, an alarming statistic or a one-sentence paragraph are all components that go into making the press release as attention-grabbing and memorable as possible.
When is the Best Time to Release a Press Release?
If you want the press release to generate media attention, you need to be strategic about when it goes live. The best time to release a press release is on a weekday morning – especially a Tuesday or Wednesday – as journalists are more likely to be working then and have the bandwidth to process new information.
Releasing on a Friday afternoon is generally not recommended, as it’s likely that journalists will already be thinking about the weekend and may not have the capacity to process your news. The same goes for releasing on a Monday morning – it’s usually too early in the week for them to want to tackle anything new.
If you want to time your release with a specific event or holiday, make sure that it is still relevant days or even weeks later. For example, if you’re releasing a press release about a new product, you don’t want to do it the same day as a major news story breaks, as your release is likely to get lost in the shuffle.
The best time to release a press release is usually between 10am and noon – this gives journalists time to process the information and decide if they want to pursue it further.
What Are the Main Questions a Press Release Should Answer?
In order to write a press release that will be effective, you need to make sure that it answers all of the important questions.
Here are some of the main questions that your press release should answer:
- Who is it about? Who is affected?
- What happened? What are the consequences?
- When did it happen?
- Where did it happen?
- Why did it happen?
- How can people find out more?
How Long Should a Press Release Be?
The ideal length of a press release is one page, or around 400-500 words. This gives you enough space to include all of the important information, without overloading the reader.
Remember that a press release is not an essay – it should be scannable, with bold lettering and short paragraphs. If it starts to get too long, journalists are likely to lose interest and move on.
Of course, there will be exceptions to this rule – if you’re announcing something truly groundbreaking, you may need more than one page to do it justice. In general, however, stick to the one-page rule as much as possible.
Putting together an effective press release and getting it distributed can be a challenge, but if you follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way to generating media attention for your brand.
Pace Public Relations is a leading PR firm based in NYC. We specialize in media relations, crisis communications, thought leadership and media placements. Contact us today to see how we can help you get the attention your brand deserves.