Following press release best practices makes your story more likely to get additional coverage. The process starts before you sit down to write your announcement and extends to writing it, following best practices for press release search engine optimization (SEO), sending it out, and what happens after it’s gone live. Learn how to boost your public relations (PR) efforts by following the best practices set out below.
Best Practices for Planning Your Press Release
Nearly seven out of every 10 journalists say the top way to win them over is to understand their target audience and what matters to that audience. Before writing your press release, take time to plan the best way to write your release, identify your main target audience, and ensure your story is geared toward engaging them.
This will save you time in the long run and make covering your announcement more appealing to journalists who serve the same audience. In fact, 54% of journalists say audience relevance is a top reason for covering a story.
1. Find an Angle That Matters to Your Audience
The angle of your press release should definitively answer the question: “Why would my target audience care?” Not only is this vital for getting the attention of your audience, but it’s also the key to gaining additional coverage by showing journalists why their audience will care about your announcement.
2. Choose the Right Type of Press Release
Publishing the right type of press release is essential if you want to get a story on the local news or even picked up nationally. While all follow similar formats, one may be more appropriate than another in certain cases.
Our list of more than a dozen different types of press releases explains the unique things to include in each one. We also have step-by-step explainer articles with free templates for various types to make your writing process faster and easier:
- AP-style press release: Select this format for general announcements as it’s in the format journalists prefer
- New hire press release: Use when announcing a key new hire, usually reserved for director level and above
- Book launch announcement: Use to support the launch of a new book or publication
- Grand opening press release: Choose this format to get journalists and others interested in attending your big opening
- Media announcement for an event: This is the type of press release to use when announcing an upcoming event
- Crisis press release: The best press release to send to manage a crisis or announce bad news
- Video news release: Read this to find out how to maximize engagement by announcing your news in video format
3. Leverage AI Writing Tools … the Right Way
Artificial intelligence, aka AI content writing tools like ChatGPT and dedicated press release AI writers like Presshook can speed up your research and writing processes. But as with other press release best practices, knowing how to leverage AI content appropriately is vitally important.
Some best practices to follow when using an AI press release writer:
- Frame your content: AI writing assistants provide an aggregate of the most commonly included data and information based on your topic or question. Using AI during research can help you build a structure of what to include in your release.
- Check the facts: Many open source AI writers don’t source content from the internet in real time, meaning they offer an aggregate of available data up to a specific point in time. So be sure to fact-check any statistics, data, or information generated that may be subject to change.
- Customize output: An AI writer can’t give your story a compelling angle or unique headlines and content. Take content generated from AI writers and personalize it with the details of your story, an angle that will resonate with your audience, and headlines that make it stand out from other content.
- Enrich with details: An AI press release writer won’t be able to write the boilerplate of your press release, which includes key details about your business and brand. It also can’t create unique quotes to humanize your story or add contact info, links back to your website, and other key elements every announcement needs.
Due to the limitations of what they can create, AI press release writing tools are best used for research and planning vs actually writing your press release. To ensure nothing gets overlooked, read up on how to format a press release and get a free template for writing yours.
Best Practices for Writing Press Releases
A press release needs more than just headlines and text to build brand awareness and affinity. To engage your audience and get the attention of journalists, it needs to be reader-friendly and enriched with multimedia and supporting details. Finally, it needs to take the reader on a journey with an incentive to learn more about the story and your brand.
4. Keep It Brief & Visually Scannable
Journalists cover an average of three beats (or topics), three in 10 file more than 10 stories every week, and 20% say brevity makes a story shareable. If your announcement is overlong or hard to scan, journalists might not even read it.
Keep your story between 300 and 500 words, keep paragraphs and sentences short, and make it clear how journalists can get more information to round out their coverage. Learn more about what makes a good press release.
Here are a few more best practices to follow when writing a press release:
- Cover the basics in the first 100 words: Answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your story, and summarize your angle in 100 words or less.
- Use bullet points: Make it easy for readers to scan key aspects of your announcement.
- Avoid jargon and fluff: Avoid technical and industry-specific terminology as well as “fluff” words like “very” or “best,” which don’t convey specific meaning.
- Use visual media: Images and videos allow you to convey supplemental information in a way that’s easy to understand.
- Leave them wanting more: Convey all the essentials while also intriguing the reader to find out more.
- Give them a way to find out more: Include a link to the page on your website that has more information, a longer version of your PR announcement, or your press kit.
Writing with all these rules in mind can be challenging, but looking at already-published announcements can help. Check out these press release examples for more inspiration.
5. Avoid Overused Words
According to Cision’s 2021 Global State of the Media Report, the top five most overused words were best of breed, world-class, unprecedented, unique, and cutting-edge. While each indicates value, note that the value isn’t quantified. Instead, use terms that convey your news’ unique, specific, and clear value for audiences.
Mistakes can hurt your media announcement’s ability to land additional coverage. Avoiding cliches and overused words is just one of the press release mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
6. Incorporate Quotes
Quotes from key stakeholders help humanize your story while also making it sound more authoritative and authentic. Depending on the type of media release, you may want to include one or several quotes, including sourcing quotes from within and outside of your company.
For example, a software company launching a new app could add quotes from beta testers or from industry experts who can attest to its industry impact. This not only adds a human aspect (making it more relatable) but also adds credibility. Instead of touting the benefits of a new product in a marketing or sales-y way, it’s being endorsed by industry experts and people who have tested it.
The press release best practices for using quotes are to:
- Make them short: Preferably under 20 words
- Write for non-experts: Offer quotes that are conversational and easy to understand (e.g., no jargon, technical, or overly complex wording)
- Offer new, authentic information: Use quotes to offer new information and expand on the angle of your story vs restating the announcement or promoting your business
- Offer choices: Provide two to three quotes from different perspectives so journalists can choose what fits their stories and angles
7. Include Multimedia
Marketers know that visuals boost engagement, and press releases are no exception. According to Cision’s 2022 State of the Media report, articles with images garner six times more engagement, while articles with a video are three times more engaging.
Many of the best press release distribution services now include at least one embedded image in distribution packages. For example, eReleases includes one, and Newswire has two. Embedding video is sometimes an add-on, although our top-rated service, EIN Presswire, includes both an image and video embedded free with your story.
Media also goes beyond images and videos. For example, many press releases include screenshots of social media posts from industry experts, brands, and high-profile individuals like celebrities or members of the media.
Another way to include multimedia content is to place videos or additional photos on a landing page on your website and link to it in the article. Whether embedded within the article or available via a link, journalists can add it to their own article. Here are some press release best practices to follow when including multimedia as part of your PR strategy:
- High-resolution images: Many distribution services specify the resolution for images attached to your press release. If not, start with a high-resolution image and use graphic design software to create a version optimized for web use to embed in your release.
- Use proprietary multimedia: Use your own photos if possible. This ensures you aren’t violating copyright laws and makes it more likely to have a unique and eye-catching image to draw attention to your release.
- Make it easy for journalists to publish across channels: Save journalists time by resizing your images for usage across social media, email, and website publication. Make videos easy to consume on social media by keeping them under two minutes and adding captions for easy viewership on silent mode.
8. Use Statistics
Meaningful statistics show journalists why your news is important. If it affects many people, for example, using a statistic can prove its impact and (in turn) that your news merits additional coverage.
Statistics that back up your claims also add credibility to your article. For example, a statistic showing that a percentage of people face a specific problem that your product solves adds to the importance of your product launch and shows that the target audience will care. Here are some press release best practices to follow when using statistics:
- Check the source: Source stats from relevant, authoritative, and recent sources. Examples include trade organizations, proprietary studies and reports, educational sources (e.g., such as those you can find on Google Scholar), institutions like Statista, polling organizations like Gallup and Nielsen, or government resources, like the U.S. Census. Stats from questionable sources or which are more than a year or two old may be why a journalist turns your story down.
- Make the data audience-relevant: For example, instead of stating the total number of people with a specified problem, indicate how many of the journalists’ audience (people within their readers’ location or demographics) could be impacted. If you can’t interpret the data directly based on your area of expertise, find someone who can, and offer an accompanying quote.
- Be precise: State the statistic exactly as the original source provided. Don’t round numbers up or down. Doing so can make your press release seem biased, less like a news story, and more like a sales pitch.
9. Add a CTA That Incentivizes Engagement
Your article’s call to action (CTA) should extend access to added value to readers and help you meet your goals. For example, inviting readers to sign up for a free trial of your software gives them free value and allows you to generate leads and build your contact list.
Similarly, a call to action from a real estate agent could be to download an e-book with tips on how to evaluate an offer. This adds free value for the prospect, showcases the realtor’s expertise, and enables list-building for future lead generation.
When pitching your story to journalists, certain types of CTAs can also work to produce more coverage. Offering an exclusive to break your story to the public, offering a free trial or demo, or providing the opportunity to interview a client, your CEO, or an industry expert can all make your story more attractive to journalists.
Press Release SEO Best Practices
While some press releases are only published in print form, the vast majority are published online. Following best practices for press release search engine optimization (SEO) provides additional exposure for your brand. For example, a journalist or prospect searching online for breakthrough products in your industry could find your press release announcing a related breakthrough.
10. Make Your Announcement Mobile-friendly
Today, most press releases are published digitally, and Google indexes web content on a mobile-first basis. To ensure that your content is both reader and search engine friendly, follow best practices for press release SEO similar to those of web pages. To make your press release mobile-friendly:
- Break up long paragraphs into smaller paragraphs of two to three sentences and no more than four to five lines.
- Embed optimized images that are small in size to ensure fast page loading and add links to high-resolution versions that journalists can use.
- Use bullet lists, images, and other multimedia elements to break up texts.
- Use headlines and subheadings to make long stories more readable and easier to scan.
- Link out to authoritative websites, such as when citing statistics or research.
11. Optimize for Search Engines
Like any other online content, press releases benefit from search engine optimization (SEO), and so does your business. For instance, optimizing your press release for online search engines makes it more likely for your news announcement to be found in online searches, in turn increasing brand awareness and credibility.
Here are the press release SEO best practices for links and keywords:
- Include keywords with high search volumes: Free keyword research tools like Semrush allow you to find keywords relevant to your story with a high monthly search volume. For example, you can find out which details to include in a book launch press release based on the keywords people search related to your book’s topic.
- Include links: Place a link to your website where it adds value for the reader or the media. For example, add your company’s website URL or a link to your media kit in the press release boilerplate so readers can learn more if they are so inclined. You may also include a link to your website in your call to action. For example, offer a lead magnet your readers will find valuable enough to download.
- Use a distribution service with SEO services: Once your press release is written, hire a press release distribution service like eReleases. They can optimize the body of your story as well as other article elements, like the title, H1, and meta description tags.
Best Practices for Sending Press Releases
Cision’s 2021 State of the Press Release report lists the top challenge for press release writers being getting their story into the right hands. The strategies below explain both how to get mass placements and exposure as well as how to target your announcement directly to your audience and potentially interested journalists.
12. Use a Mass Distribution Platform
Sending your release through a newswire is your best bet for maximum reach and brand awareness. The best press release services not only ensure your news is published across major media outlets, but many also have options for you to send your press release directly to media journalists and editors via direct email.
Based on our own internal research, 82.5% of people want to target a specific industry-based audience when sending a press release. The best way to do this is through a press release distribution platform that offers both mass syndication through newswires as well as multi-layer targeting.
Several services have developed niche features or capabilities that make them more appropriate for some types of organizations or news releases. For example, Newswire has the best targeting for reaching niche audiences, while eReleases is better for reaching the widest range of media outlets. NewsWireToday is a great service for nonprofits and is also on our list of the best free press release services.
13. Pitch Your Story to Media Contacts Directly
Journalists say that 80% of their stories originate from pitches (Source: Muck Rack). Our article on how to get local press coverage explains how to build a list, create a pitch, and develop relationships with media professionals to boost your PR efforts.
Mistakes to avoid when pitching your story to journalists directly include following up too often, timing your pitch poorly, or making your pitch TLTR (too long to read). According to Muck Rack’s State of Journalism 2022, here are some best practices to follow when contacting members of the media to solicit additional coverage:
- Use email—it’s the preferred channel for 94% of journalists.
- Personalize your approach; it shows you understand the journalist’s target audience.
- Keep it short—200 words or less.
- Include a clear subject line to get the attention of interested journalists.
- Link out to PDFs and multimedia instead of attaching them to your email—they can trigger spam filters and prevent delivery of your email.
- Send your email pitch on a Monday or Tuesday between 5 a.m. and noon, and try to send it two weeks in advance of when you would like to see the story published.
Above all, make every word count. Media professionals receive anywhere from five to 50 or more pitches weekly, so getting straight to the point and providing all the resources they need to write and cover your media announcement is vital.
Did you know? A media advisory is an announcement sent directly to members of the media, whereas press releases are generally meant for public consumption. Learn how to write a media advisory and how to use them as part of the PR strategy for your small business.
14. Find Influencers Who Want to Break Your Story
Professional journalists are not the only individuals who can provide coverage of your story. Popular podcasters, influencers, celebrities, and industry leaders who have a large following on social media are all examples of individuals who might be interested. As with journalists, offering them a free trial or demo, exclusive rights to break your story, or insider details can all incentivize sharing.
Even journalists are looking to influencers for news stories to cover now. The Muck Rack report, cited in the section above, found that journalists consider celebrities and social media personalities more credible than they did before.
15. Share on Social Media
Sixty percent of journalists check out a brand’s social media when covering a story about the brand, according to Muck Rack’s 2022 State of Journalism report. When sharing your press release on social media, embellish your post with additional facts and human interest aspects or social proof. Then link to your press release on a media platform (or your website).
16. Include a Link to Your Press Kit
Adding a link to your company’s press kit provides additional resources for interested journalists and adds credibility to your story and brand. It should include key company metrics like how and when your business was founded (and by whom), the size of your company, its services or products, and an overview of the qualifications of key officers like your CEO, board of directors, and department directors.
Learn how to make a press kit, including a free template you can use to create one to include in your press releases.
Best Practices for After Sending a Press Release
After you send your announcement, it’s crucial to gauge its performance and your return on investment. If you plan on sending press releases as a continuing strategy, this is also a great opportunity to build relationships with journalists who cover stories about brands like yours.
17. Track Results
If you send your media release via a service like eReleases or Newswire, you’ll have access to analytics that show how your press release performed. This includes everything from the number of outlets running your release to specific placements and engagement data, like clicks and views.
You can also use marketing software to track press release reach and performance. Some ways to do this include using trackable links in your announcement, email marketing software, social monitoring and listening apps, and customer relationship management (CRM) software. You can also set up Google alerts to be notified anytime your brand is mentioned online.
18. Follow Up
If you pitched journalists personally, send a follow-up email anywhere from three to seven days later to see if they have any questions. If they do, make yourself available as soon as possible as journalists often work on a short timetable.
If a journalist covers your story and shares it on their social media, re-share their post with your social media followers. More than six out of 10 journalists say they track whether their stories get shared on social media.
Send journalists who cover your story a thank-you note or email. Include an invitation for them to contact you if they are looking for similar stories in the future, and send future releases to them directly for consideration.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I use a professional press release distribution service?
To get maximum reach, it’s best to use a press release distribution platform. They provide the widest distribution, and top services guarantee placements and email your news directly to journalists, creating even more opportunities for you to land press coverage.
What makes a good press release?
Good press releases align best practices for both content and format. Follow standard AP-style press release formatting, then find a coverage-worthy angle, write a compelling headline and subheadline, and add a 300 to 500 word summary of your news. Finish with a call to action and add media contact information to the boilerplate.
How can I hire someone to write my press release?
There are many options for hiring someone to write a press release. Among the most affordable is to hire a PR copywriting expert from Fiverr to write your story for as little as $5. Alternatively, you can outsource both press release writing and distribution to PR professionals at eReleases, or source industry-specific experts to write your release from CorpWriting.
Following these guidelines proves your story deserves media coverage and makes it easy for journalists to provide an extra PR boost. Make your story scannable and valuable, and provide additional resources journalists need to develop their own stories. Optimize your content to make it discoverable by search engines, and up the engagement factor with statistics, multimedia, and quotes.
If you need help, eReleases offers some of the best press release writing services. A call will be scheduled with you to learn details about your news and your company goals, and an experienced PR professional will write your announcement. While other services may offer a or two rounds of edits, eReleases’ editors collaborate with you until you’re 100% satisfied. Click below to get started today.