Writing a press release is very different from website content or blog writing. Press releases must be crafted in a very specific way.
Why Write a Press Release?
News sites are always looking for credible information to share so why not help them out by sending them a press release? Businesses write press releases anytime they have important news to share with the public. In addition to marketing, published press releases build brand recognition and reputation. If your business happens to be handling a crisis, it is best to break the news yourself through a carefully crafted publication. When another website links to your website you also improve your website authority with search engines. This helps improve your site’s search engine rankings through search engine optimization.
Emily Jones, part of our own Dogwood crew, has a degree from Troy University in communications and public relations. She offered the following on the importance of good communication when writing for the press.
“A press release is a piece of written communication used to report information about an upcoming event or current circumstance. Press releases are used by businesses to inform news media, bloggers, and social media influencers about things happening within their company that they feel is newsworthy information. Press releases are a key part of a successful marketing strategy. It is important to make sure that a press release is written in the correct format and includes pertinent information and quotes in order to be noticed and possibly shared by media outlets.”
Press releases might be written about the following content with your business:
- Breaking news or announcements
- Product launches
- Upcoming events
- New business partnerships or mergers
- New research
- Awards and recognition within your company
- The hiring of new executives (more applicable to larger organizations)
- Handling a crisis
When deciding whether your announcement is press release worthy, consider whether the news is something your audience would be interested in and also if it is something the media’s audience would be interested in. Then go from there.
Formatting a Press Release
Normally when content is created, you may write to build up anticipation to the main message of your content. When writing a press release you do the opposite. Lead with the main message you want to be released. All the following paragraphs support the details of the main announcement. Make sure all the information is easy to read and follow. Stick to the points and whatever you do, don’t overdo it. In our fast-paced news world, journalists are looking for substance and simplicity in press releases.
Your press release must include the following:
A Well Constructed Headline
Simplify your message so that it announces exactly what you want to the world. As much as you may want to be cute or rhyme (like Leslie Knope!) resist. Keep it simple and to the point.
A Contact for the Press
Include the name, email, and phone number for the person the press should contact regarding questions, clarifications, or if they want to dive deeper into your message.
Where Is the News Happening?
Include the city and state of where the news is happening. If it can be specified even more, or if there is an event happening at a location other than the business, add that too.
Date of Release
Normally the date of release is worded “For immediate release” but if there is another time frame applicable, be sure to make that clear. In some cases you may want to alert the media in advance of a major announcement and you may ask for an “embargo” until a selected time. It is up to the news agency on whether or not they honor it. Once you hit send to share the publication, make sure everything is correct. There is little room for “do-overs” in the media!
The content of your publication should be 2-5 strong paragraphs. Lead with the main idea of your press release in the first paragraph. The others should include supporting information.
A Relevant Quote
It is always helpful to add a relevant quote from a reputable source within your press release. When you read news articles, you will notice that almost all of them include quotes that pertain to the current information.
A boilerplate is key information about your company and key details and it is added at the end of the press release. It is a quick summary of who you are and what you do. For example, “Dogwood Media Solutions is a marketing company located in Montgomery, Alabama. Founded in 2019, they specialize in digital marketing, website design, graphic design, search engine optimization, and search engine marketing.” Journalists often look at the boilerplate information first to make sure it is strong and well worded.
If there are images applicable to your press release, those could be included. Make sure they are high-quality images with good lighting and in a format the media can use. If you send multiple images, consider using a cloud storage folder to add the media in so you won’t blow up their email inbox.
Include a Word Document
While your press release may be shared as a pdf, it is very helpful to include a word document or other format that is easily copied and pasted. This way the journalist can quickly move the information to a site for publication.
Insights from our Specialists
We shared earlier some great insight from Emily and I wanted to share a little more insight from two other members of the Dogwood crew.
Lauren, our Senior Digital Media Specialist who has a degree in English Language and Literature, shared these important tips.
“When writing a press release you must double and even triple check for grammar and spelling mistakes. Poor grammar, misspelled words, and an awkward flow in your content will be an instant turnoff for journalists. Make sure your content has a professional tone. When anything is published here at Dogwood we have at least two other sets of eyes look over the content for mistakes and to make sure our message is easily understood by our readers.”
Megan, our newest member of the Dogwood crew, has past experience working for a reputable news station. She understands the fast flow of the news world. She shared this insight with us.
“The world of breaking news and journalism is fast-paced and often stressful. If a journalist cannot understand your message clearly and concisely they often must move on to the next release. Having a carefully and correctly crafted press release is a great help to the journalist when they are looking for relevant information to share with the masses. Their job is to share great information and your business has great information to share. When both come together in a great press release, it is a win-win for both!”
The crew at Dogwood is experienced in writing all kinds of content including press releases. If we can help your business succeed in any way, contact us to get the conversation started!