Everything you need to know about press releases
A press release is a written document that has been specifically prepared to be shown to the media. Press releases are used as a way of announcing something newsworthy to a specific audience to gain traction and media attention. Press releases were traditionally sent to newspapers, magazines, and television stations. Today press releases can also be released on social media, and websites or sent out to bloggers, influencers, and online media outlets. They are an extremely important communication method as they can help garner attention, build relationships with the media, and create a strong brand identity. Read on to discover everything you need to know about press releases!
How does a press release work?
So, how does a press release work and why are they important in modern business? The goal of a press release is to promote a product, service, company or event in a clear way to a journalist. Writing a press release involves creating a story that is newsworthy and compelling. If it is not interesting, it will not spark the interest of journalists. A press release serves the following three media purposes:
- Notify the media.
- Share information about a business.
What a press release is not
Many companies make mistakes when constructing their press releases. Do not get confused by focusing on what a press release is not.
One of the most common errors used when writing a press release is making it sound like it is a promotion. Press releases are not advertisements. Journalists are looking for a compelling and newsworthy story. Advertisements make up a paid marketing strategy and should not be a part of a company’s PR strategy.
Rather than just spitting out fact after fact in your press release, make it interesting. Remember readers need to be excited by what is being presented to them. Always remember to reveal the facts in the most interesting way possible.
Journalists get thousands of emails hitting their inbox daily and delete most of what they receive. If a press release is dry, rigid and or boring, then it will be going straight to the trash. The media will not jump on every single press release written. The purpose of a press release is to excite and create a buzz about a new product, service, or event. Make sure the press release has something worthy of discussion, otherwise it is not worth writing. You want the media to give you some of their precious space? Give them something worth their time!
What is a press release for?
A press release is delivered to the media to provide information on various subjects. Most commonly, press releases are used for:
- Product announcements
- Business launches
- Company announcements
- Event announcements
- Award announcements
- New employee or expert hire announcements
- Initiative announcements
- Partnership releases
What makes up a press release?
Discover the main components of a successful press release!
- A short and catchy headline
Journalists receive thousands of press releases every day! A press release that will always stand out is one that has a short and catchy headline. It is the first thing that is read and most journalists will decide whether they want to write an article on the topic based on its subject line. Therefore, the headline and subject of a press release need to be attention-grabbing. If they do not deliver, then it is unlikely its audience will read on. A captivating headline can go a long way.
- Get to the point
Just like the headline, a press release should be written in a clear and direct way. Don’t drag out a topic or add too much fluff to the filling. The time journalists can allocate to your writing as well as the general attention span of the public are getting shorter and shorter with so much media and news to digest online every day. If they can read your email or press release by understanding the main points quickly, then you have written the press release correctly.
- The filling
In general, a press release should be no longer than one page of text. It needs to provide just enough details so that the reader gets a good grasp of the information but is eager to find out more and get in contact. Ideally, the font should be no smaller than size 10 and spaces should be left in between paragraphs and headings. Make sure the press release is easy on the eye and does not overwhelm the reader. If you squint, so does everyone!
What are the characteristics of a press release?
When you get an email or newsletter from a brand or company, what is the first thing that catches your attention? What makes you want to keep reading and clicking to discover more about a certain company or product? When constructing a press release, always keep in mind that it must be memorable and direct. There are several factors to keep in mind to gain attention from the media.
Firstly, there must be something to talk about. If a press release contains nothing new, then there is no point in sending it out to the public. Make sure the topic of the press release is eye-catching and noteworthy.
A great press release is written in a clear and direct way. One strategy is to answer the five W’s: who, what, when, where, and why. This will allow the reader to gather all the essential information they need quickly. Make sure to proofread and check for any spelling errors as little mistakes like that are always noticed by journalists. A press release should have perfect spelling throughout and be grammatically flawless.
- Good timing.
Timing is critical. Before you have even written a well thought out and newsworthy press release, it is crucial to think about the time and date of the release. This can ultimately affect its success and how much attention it will receive. When it comes to timing, important considerations include what countries will it be sent to, what time zones you should consider and what time of day or day of the week would work best for the target audience. If the press release is promoting a product or event, think about how far in advance the press release should be communicated so that buzz and interest can be created.
- High-quality images and formatting
Consumers are taking in information from the media all day long. To make your press release stand out, make sure it is aesthetically pleasing to the reader. Readers are attracted to beautiful images and well thought out design. If images, logos, or videos are included or attached alongside a press release, make sure they are of the best possible resolution and quality. A blurry image can come across as unprofessional and sloppy.
- Factually correct.
There is nothing more frustrating than reading a piece of information that is not entirely true or has not been fact-checked before publication. A press release should contain all the facts necessary, and a journalist should not have to further check it after reading. If the correct information is not provided this could go on to potentially cause a PR crisis for a business - which is never a good thing!
At the end of the day, a press release needs to be relevant to the media or to the reader it is sent to. If you are writing a press release about a new toy for kids, then you would not send it out to a journalist who works for a bachelor’s magazine, for example. Making sure your press release hits the correct target audience is crucial to its success. There are several email marketing tools and services that can be used to pinpoint the right publications and journalists for a press release.
Check this article to know how to write a good corporate press release.
Press release examples
To spark some inspiration, it can be useful to look at successful press releases. Whether it is for announcing a new product, event, or campaign, keeping examples on file will give you a great starting point. Discover a few examples of interesting and outstanding press releases below.
- Event press release
An event press release reveals to the media and potential customers about an event that is happening soon. It should include all the important information including the event’s theme, key speakers, and where or how it is taking place.
In 2021, HEINZ released not just a successful, but also an extremely innovative press release that captivated the public and the press alike. Their title ‘HEINZ Is Searching for Its First-Ever ‘Head Burger Artist’ made its readers eager for more information. HEINZ was not looking for a new employee. Instead, they created a competition where anyone could win $25,000 free travel to sample some delicious burgers and, of course, get a supply of HEINZ condiments for life. HEINZ managed to not only grab attention but also encouraged the public to actively get involved. Besides the appealing headline, the press release had all the basic elements required to immediately attract an audience. By holding the interest of the reader, HEINZ delivered a great example of how to get people excited about a new product by including them in the promotion. Encouraging its consumers to get involved made its release newsworthy in a fun and exciting way. This press release is a good reminder that not every press release or corporate communication needs to be super serious and that an element of excitement and fun can go a long way!
- Product announcements press release
A product launch press release is produced by a company or organization to reveal a new product. Creating and sharing a press release about an upcoming product launch is important as it can help spread the word, create enthusiasm for your brand, and drive sales.
A powerful product launch press release was created by car company Chevrolet when they released their new Corvette in 2020. Most of the press release is made up of multimedia and even interactive media so that readers can immerse themselves inside the luxury vehicle. Behind-the-scenes videos are also included so journalists can click play to discover more if they want to. Another interesting example by Chevrolet was in 2016 when they put out a press release that was entirely made up of emojis. As they were attempting to appeal to younger consumers, this press release caught the attention of the media for its originality and humour.
Another example is when Apple launched their Apple Watch. The headline ‘Apple Watch: The ultimate combination of design, function and value’, engages, intrigues, and leaves the reader wanting more. Alongside this, they included high-quality, sleek images that created buzz for something the reader may have not known they wanted or needed. The Apple Watch press release demonstrates how technically a non-essential product can become essential in daily life.
- Campaign launch press release
Press releases are a must for any campaign that is being launched. The initial promotion is vital for a company which is why the press release needs to be appealing and engaging.
In 2016, drinks company Coca-Cola announced its “One Brand’ marketing and campaign press launch. For the first time, the brand was uniting its family of drinks including Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Light/ Diet Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero and Coca-Cola Life under one brand position in the global creative campaign entitled “Taste the Feeling”. The press release for this announcement was exciting, compelling, and straight to the point. It also used beautiful and high-quality campaign images within the press release that stuck out and appealed to its audience. This press release was a refreshing change in the marketing strategy for the brand and stood out extremely well to journalists and consumers.