Do's & Dont's of a Good Press Release
Updated: Feb 13
For many, the thought of writing a press release can be intimidating. After all, journalists can be a notoriously picky lot when they have deadlines to meet. Fortunately, a press release is very formulaic, and we’ve laid out the various components and how to assemble the press release (you’re welcome). To quickly recap, those components are:
However, even if the pieces are in the right order, that doesn’t guarantee that the press release is going to garner media attention.
Writing a good press release is all about telling a good story. But first, you have to know who your audience is —no, they are not journalists, but more about that later, —and then, how to keep their attention.
1. Where most press releases go awry is when the writer (or their bosses) tries to do too much.
Either by packing in too much information or trying too hard to make it an exciting read.
When writing a press release, you have to decide whether your goal is to please the
executives and stakeholders within your company or the journalist who will ultimately decide whether to cover your story. Rarely, if ever, will you be able to do both in the same piece.
Pro Tip: Got two bits of newsworthy information? Push them out in separate releases.
2. Know your journalist
Every journalist covers different beats. Knowing what they cover and what they’re interested in will make all the difference.
To know which journalists can be interested in your press release, read the targeted journalists' articles before you pitch to them. It's simple but too often overlooked homework for many marketers. More on the topic here: How to pitch a journalist
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Keep your release simple and straight to the point. The release will most likely be trashed if any important point gets buried in between sensationalism, gimmickry, or cuteness in an attempt to keep people interested.
Keep your message clear and simple and keep your eye on the prize —your news being covered by the media, reaching your target audience.
4. Know your target audience
At the end of the day, the press release is not for journalists but for their readers, which is ideally your target audience. The journalist is the gatekeeper who will decide whether they will turn your announcement into a news story.
5. Captivation through the 5Ws
It’s important to remember your press release should always be written through the lens of the 5 Ws —What, Who, Where, When, and Why.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when trying to decide whether or not your press release is compelling:
What is the one piece of information in the press release that is valuable to my target audience?
Are the key pieces of information easy to find? Reread your piece and see if you can quickly answer the 5 Ws, who, what, where, when, and why.
Is your press release captivating? A good press release needs to be informative and exciting.
Is the information timely? Remember, it’s rarely news if it has already happened and has made several rounds on different social media channels.
Following these best practices can help make your press release informative and exciting to read. Next time, we’ll start diving into the nitty-gritty of press release words and grammar.
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.