What is a press release?
A press release is an official statement delivered to members of the news media that announces something that is newsworthy. These 1-3 page documents are typically composed by writers or public relations professionals at companies and other organizations, and then are mailed, emailed or faxed to assignment editors or journalists.
What is a press release used for?
The purpose of a press release is to get news coverage and increase brand awareness among a target audience. If a press release is effective, there’s a good chance the information or story will get coverage in the news and media, thereby generating publicity about the brand.
That said, a press release is not a promotional document or a sales pitch. It must be framed in a way that is objective and factual in order to be genuinely newsworthy. Using press releases is a common part of many companies marketing strategies.
What is included in a press release?
A press release needs to be short, straightforward and to the point. Often, it communicates what is going on at a company. This may include:
A change within the company, such as a big funding round, strategic partnership or new locations.
A product announcement, such as a new innovation or brand.
Research results, such as important findings of a study or survey.
Organizational initiatives that may impact the community.
Press releases must communicate all the essential information - who, what, when, where, how and why - so that journalists can use them to produce a news story.
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How do you write a press release?
A press release must follow a specific format so that it’s clear it is a press release rather than an advertisement or letter to the editor.
A standard press release begins with contact information - the name, phone number and email address of the person who wrote the document.
This is then followed by the most crucial piece of information - the headline. The headline must be intriguing and newsworthy in order to get picked up by the journalist. Does the subject interest their readers? Is it relevant to their editorial field? Does it benefit the community in some way? If it isn’t compelling, the journalist is unlikely to read the document any further.
After the headline, there is a quick, one-sentence summary of the press release. This should also promise a riveting story, inspiring the journalist to continue reading.
When it comes to the body of the press release, the first sentence should read like a standard news story and summarize the main points in 25 words or less. The location and dateline should also be included at the beginning of the sentence - for example, “New York, NY - January 14, 2021.”
The remainder of the press release must incorporate all the essential details about the event, initiative, product or service being announced. This, too, should be concise, taking into account the questions a journalist might have when covering the story. It should be written in the third person, just as a news article would be.
Concluding the press release is a short description of the organization that is issuing the statement. At the very end is a call-to-action, which asks the journalist to participate in the event, test the product or contact the writer.