A Guide To Writing The Best Press Release
Updated: Feb 13
A press release is a powerful tool for any public relations campaign. It’s an announcement, a big reveal; it is the first step in good PR. And like any first step, it must be taken with love and great care.
Unlike an article, a blog post, or an advertisement, a press release should present newsworthy information about a business.
The target audience is a very important distinction, though. As such, a press release should be a concise and direct communication with the media regarding a business’s noteworthy events, positions, or changes. New CEO? Company merger? New investment? Events that will interest your direct or broader business audience are worthy of a press release.
Ideally, a press release is presented to the media, which in turn, will generate media coverage and new business traffic. However, editorial coverage is never a guaranteed outcome. Instead, a press release is the first step in building relationships with journalists and the media.
While every press release is different, the successful ones all have the same components.
Here we will take a quick look at each of these components and their purpose.
What should be the Headline of a Press Release?
A headline serves as the reader’s first impression and is, without a doubt, the most important part of the entire press release. More often than not, a reader, even a journalist, will decide whether or not to read a press release based on the headline alone.
Many assume that a sensational headline would be the way to go here, and that would be the wrong assumption. Instead, a successful headline should be simple. A few words that explain the intention and origin of the press release, that’s it. If the news is worthwhile, the rest will take care of itself.
What is a Dateline in a Press Release?
The dateline is exactly what it sounds like. It states when the release was written and where it originated. The dateline should be the first line of the press release before the opening paragraph begins.
How to frame the Opening Paragraph of a Press Release?
Like the headline, the opening paragraph needs to grab the attention of the reader and hold it while informing them of the important details within the press release.
Also, like the headline, a sensational approach isn’t the way to go. It’s best to consider the opening paragraph as a summary of the press release. A reader will often skim the opening paragraph to see if the release is worth reading. A good opening paragraph will stick to the important information, which (if newsworthy) will be sufficient to keep the reader’s attention.
How to frame the Body Paragraphs of a Press Release?
Just like an article, the body paragraphs will explain the information more in-depth so the reader will have a clear understanding of what is happening and why it's important. A press release typically has three to five paragraphs in the body (depending on how much information needs to be conveyed). Good body paragraphs will fully state the information presented in the headline and opening paragraph and will build upon the one that came before it. In the end, all of the paragraphs should be cohesively linked and support the headline and opening paragraph.
Is Boilerplate mandatory for a Press Release?
Technically speaking, a boilerplate isn’t mandatory for a press release, but they are preferred. A boilerplate is a short paragraph that gives the reader a brief background about either the company or the person issuing the release without the need for any additional research.
A boilerplate is helpful in reinforcing name and brand recognition and, once written, may be re-used continuously.
Mandatory parts of a PR's Contact Information!
Contact information provides the press with an individual they can reach out to who will represent the company and answer any questions the press may have. One of the fastest ways to annoy a journalist is to omit this information.
Contact information should include the following:
Optional information can include an after-hours contact number or information for an additional contact. Typically, the press would prefer to deal with one point of contact, so only add multiple contacts when necessary.
A press release, when done properly, is succinct, informative, and powerful. It can garner attention and help to drive new business. The best approach to creating a press release is to be straightforward and direct, with facts over sensation.
All press releases should include a headline, dateline, opening paragraph, body paragraphs, boilerplate, and contact information.
Now that we understand the structure of a proper press release, we can begin to look at the “how” of it. More specifically, we will look at how to word a press release by utilizing the 5 Ws.
Is it still confusing? We have helped many clients write and release successful press releases over the years, and we would be happy to help you too. Drop us a message, and we will get back to you.