Have you ever noticed that official statements are always released whenever something ‘newsworthy’ happens? Whether it’s to clear up rumors or to confirm them, when something out of the ordinary occurs and causes a stir amongst the general masses, there is always an official statement to clarify things. This may seem like just another public announcement, but it’s not as simple as that.
The subject matter can be varied, and the nature of the seriousness will differ. Still, if it’s stated that it is an ‘official statement’, it’s usually consumed as a credible source of information about the topic.
If you are familiar with public relations or are in the media field, you’re probably well versed with the term ‘press release’. However, if this is the first time you’ve heard about it and want to know more, then you’re at the right place because we’ll be breaking down all the know-how related to press releases and how you can write a stellar one.
What is a Press Release and Why is it Important?
Simply put, a press release is an official statement that an organization or entity provides to outlets in the media for public consumption. A press release is important because it contains all relevant information about a topic in one single source, i.e., it is a concise and convenient source of information.
A press release is also formal by nature and, to an extent, carries a sense of authority with it. It is used to attract media attention (whatever the intention behind this may be). Press releases are considered the primary source of information because they are the original informants of information.
They are a great tool to control the narrative of any discourse. Traditionally, press releases have been distributed to newswires who further convey them to journalists, and because of this, press releases have followed a standard format.
What is the Right Time to Create a Press Release?
As mentioned before, press releases are an effective way to shape and control narratives in the media. A press release is usually done by a company or entity when it faces scrutiny or is under fire in the court of public opinion. But, press releases are not always employed to tackle negativity; they can be utilized to garner public attention when a major event is to be held by a company or an organization.
We’ll list out some events when a press release can be used to gain media attention and bring more clout:
Breaking News – Any breaking news related to an organization can be made public using press releases.
Product Launches – A company can release a press release to promote an upcoming product or service launch.
Grand Openings – A new showroom or movie theatre opening up soon? Press releases are great for this.
Events – Any public or private events requiring attention can be made known through press releases.
Changes in Leadership – If any changes at the executive level are about to occur, then a press release is a formal and effective way to announce it.
What Makes a Press Release Different from Public Announcements?
You might be wondering how press releases differ from other public announcements. We’ve established that they are official, but you can argue that news you get from official media sources is also. The main underlying difference is in formality. Not only are press releases more formal, but they also follow a specific format.
Another difference is that historically, they are considered primary sources of information, meaning they are original documents containing official information. Apart from this, press releases differ from other public announcements because they are crafted with a specific objective – to gain media attention, i.e., to be picked up and reported by news sources.
What are the Different Types of Press Releases?
We’ve covered before that press releases have dual functions of controlling the narrative (damage control) and bringing attention (in a positive sense). There are different types of press releases; we’ll highlight the most prominent and commonly utilized types for you
By invitations, we also mean event announcements. Whether it is a private event with limited people or a public event organized to attract many people, press releases are an effective way to inform and give out event invitations. These invitations and announcements play a role in brand recognition and image, so you must craft them well.
- Volkswagen’s full schedule for a charity concert
- Blunt – Premium Salon – Opening stores in London.
2. Product Launches
This is a no-brainer. It’s through press releases that big-name companies let people know about upcoming product launches. A press release is also a great way to give updates about products. Brands can also control the type and extent of information that will be made aware to the public, generating excitement and building up tension.
- Lenovo unveils new foldable laptop series.
- Audible offers new features with recent updates.
Using press releases to make the public aware of the achievements and awards a brand has received is the smoothest move a company can take to build a reputation. It’s also a great way to create a buzz amongst the public if a brand or company has recently received funding.
- Dyson Air Wrap is the no.1 hair tool in 2022
- Happy Hearts won first place in the NGO rankings this year.
4. Breaking News
Press releases are an effective way to make the general public aware of breaking news. Due to their concise and precise format, press releases provide clear information and state facts in a tone that is formal and not too overly emotional but gets the point across.
- Sydney to resume tourism by next July.
- Hurricane Cathy – is expected to reach Indian coastlines by the second week of January.
The primary objective behind a press release is to gain the attention of media outlets. Press releases have a better option of being picked up when crafted in a certain way.
Follow the tips we’ve explained below so that you can write a press release that will guarantee media coverage.
How to Write a Press Release?
1. Captivating Headline
Think about it this way – information is everywhere. Whenever you scroll through any form of social media, be it Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc., or open any app or even turn on the tv, it’s flooded with all kinds of breaking news. So, to capture the reader’s attention, your press release needs a clear, captivating headline.
The headline of your press release should grab attention and convey the story’s point, i.e., you should not just craft up a random title that has nothing to do with your story. You should know the content clearly and develop a catchy and captivating headline. So, a great tip is to use action verbs and not make them too long.
2. Clear Details
A press release is supposed to be a succinct and reliable source of information. You have to include proper details about the topic at hand. If it’s an event, include dates, location, timing, who to contact, etc.
Likewise, if it’s a product launch or update, highlight all the important details clearly. If it’s breaking news, then you have to relay all relevant information to make your story sense.
3. Prioritize the 5 W’s
The opening paragraph of your press release should contain the 5 W’s: Who is this story about? What is happening? Where is it going to happen? When will it occur? and Why is it important?
Prioritizing the 5 W’s will make it clear to the journalists that the topic of your press release is relevant and worth putting out into the media for public consumption.
4. Provide a Tempting Quote
Once you’ve gained the attention of media sources and relayed to journalists the relevant details, it’s wise to offer a tempting quote that reporters can use when relaying information to the public.
The quote should be with context, though; you shouldn’t just offer a quote because it ‘sounds great’; it should be related to the topic and help paint a picture for those listening.
Ideally, getting a quote from someone directly involved in the story is the best route, but this does not mean that you should include any and every statement made by persons involved in the story.
5. Background Information
Providing the necessary background information related to your press release will give those who consume your content a much-needed context. Offer details that will strengthen your narrative and paint your story positively.
Let’s say you are writing a press release for a company about a new product launch. If you can include the backstory of how the product was developed creatively and highlight its impact, then your press release will have a better chance of being picked up by the media.
6. Skip Usage of Jargon
You have to remember that a press release is done for public consumption. People have to understand what is being conveyed to them first and foremost. So, ensure you are not using industry jargon or words and phrases that are too complicated. Simplicity is key when writing a press release.
7. Sign Off Appropriately
You should always end your press release appropriately. Avoid abrupt endings and write your press release in a way that the reader is smoothly eased into the ending. The method of signing off will differ depending on where you are, but the key is to sign off in a way that indicates that the press release has ended.
When writing a press release, you should include a summary of the story at the bottom (the ending paragraph). Also, in this summary, make sure to include a boilerplate, i.e., a short business biography or, in other words, information about the topic, which will rarely change.
Now that you know how to write a press release, let’s check out some key elements that you should never fail to include in your press release.
What are the Key Elements of a Press Release?
1. The Headline
We have already touched on this in the ‘How to write a press release’ segment, but we’re mentioning it again because it is such a key component. Your press release must always have a headline. It must capture the reader’s attention and convey the story’s gist in a captivating manner as well.
2. Publication Date
Any press release should contain a clearly described date of publication. You should be careful about dates because incorrect input can result in lost credibility for a company or brand.
3. Introductory Paragraph
Your press release should always follow the format of an intro paragraph. This introductory paragraph must contain the 5 W’s (refer to the above ‘how to write a press release’ segment).
4. Contact Information
Never forget to include contact information in your press release. It will be wise to provide at least two contact numbers as one may not go through.
Also mentioned before, your press release should follow a specific format which entails that the ending paragraph is a summary paragraph. This summary should include the boilerplate, which is a short business biography.
Now that you are well equipped with everything you need to know about writing a press release, we’ll end this blog with just two more tips.
Firstly, only write a press release when you have a newsworthy announcement because if you don’t, then regardless of how much effort you put into it, it’s unlikely that the media will pick it up.
Secondly, after sending out press releases, monitoring their impact is important, as this will help you gauge if they are effective. If it is received well, you are heading in the right direction.
If not, then it’s time to sit down and assess the changes needed to be made so that your press release can reach the intended target audience.