A press release is an approximately 500-word, fact-based written description of a company’s newsworthy announcement. It is issued to earn media interest in publishing the story before targeted audiences. It should offer an angle that’s of interest to target audiences, resources for journalists to tell a complete story, and a call to action to help companies meet their goals.
To be considered newsworthy, an announcement should be relevant to the intended audience based on factors such as proximity (does the story affect people in your local area), prominence (does the news help you stand out from your competition), and timeliness (does the information contained within the release inspire a sense of urgency). However, other factors, like addressing a recent conflict, crisis, or more positive stories related to human interest, can also be newsworthy.
How a Press Release Works
A press release is issued by a business or organization to inform the media of company news. It is an approximately 500-word description of the news they wish the press to cover in their own publications. It should provide the information journalists need to determine if the story would pique the interest of their audiences. The more information small businesses provide in their press releases, the less work the journalist must do to run the story, increasing the likelihood of press coverage.
A press release should be written to speak to the target audience it is intended for in an objective, fact-based journalist style. It should tell the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the announcement with an angle that tells target audiences why they should care, using language that appeals to the target audience. It should also include other elements to help the journalist complete their stories, like quotes from key stakeholders and multimedia. A call to action helps businesses use the release to meet their business goals.
Once a company writes a press release, it must distribute it. It can do so by sending the press release to journalists themselves and by using a distribution service. To send a press release to a journalist, the business should ensure the journalist’s audience is part of its own target audience and is likely to find the story valuable. When distributing a press release, a company can send the release to thousands of targeted outlets simultaneously.
Companies should track the press release performance to determine if the press release has indeed contributed to meeting the company’s business goals. Many distribution services offer analytics dashboards—many of which are customizable—to help businesses learn if their release moved them toward goals like spreading positive brand awareness, earning sales or leads, or positioning themselves as industry influencers. Other tools they can use for this purpose include website analytics and social media monitoring and analytics tools.
Reasons Businesses Send Press Releases
A press release is issued by small businesses to earn positive media for their companies before target audiences. It should be a description of the news story you wish the media to cover with the intention of gaining journalists’ interest in the story. Once the story has been published, the coverage should result in companies meeting their business goals, including boosting sales, brand awareness, credibility, industry leadership positioning, and leads.
Here are some common business goals a press release could help you meet:
- Sales: When announcing a product, merger, acquisition, or new business launch, for example, a press release can help attract prospective buyers to the new business endeavor. Often, this targeted exposure leads to more sales. For example, if you set up a landing page to announce a new product with a discounted offer, you could drive traffic from your press release to your product page and thereby earn sales.
- Targeted brand awareness: Many press release distribution providers offer to target by region, industry, and audience demographics and interests. Companies can also send press releases to individual journalists who share a target audience with their businesses. This not only means reaching existing stakeholders with positive brand news, but potential stakeholders as well.
- Positive brand awareness: Many companies use business announcements to position their companies in a positive light. For example, companies use press releases to showcase philanthropic events they’re hosting or to offer corrective actions to a company mistake. When targeted to the right audience, this type of exposure helps brands gain acceptance and loyalty from key stakeholders.
- Credibility: A positive, newsworthy announcement—like a new business launch, a merger, a new hire, or an award announcement—helps to position your company as a more credible one. A new hire, for example, can show stakeholders that your business can attract top industry talent and, in turn, serve your customers better.
- Industry leadership: The right news announcement could help to secure your business’ reputation as an industry leader. A revolutionary product launch, for example, can highlight your company as leading product innovation and customer solutions in your industry.
- New leads: When you expose a company to new target audience members, you have the potential to gain leads. Press releases allow you a positive means to get your company before new target audience members. You can even include a release call to action that encourages lead nurturing. For example, you could set up a landing page that filters new interested target audience members into an email drip campaign.
To see how other businesses have effectively used press releases to further their business goals, be sure to check out our press release examples guide, where we’ve assembled some of the best for small businesses.
What a Press Release Is Not
There are a lot of terms out there that sound similar to a press release but may or may not actually describe a press release. These include a press statement, a news release, a media alert, and a media advisory. Below we discuss their differences, if any, from a traditional press release as described above.
Press Release Versus Press Statement
While a press release is issued by a business to get the media talking about company news, a press statement is a company’s reaction to a conversation that is already happening in the news about their business. A press statement is shorter than a press release and offers quotes or a brief take on your side of the story from your company so reporters can include your reaction to a breaking story that involves your business.
Press Release Versus Media Advisory (Also Known as a Media Alert)
While a press release includes the information a journalist needs to decide if a company story would interest their target audience, a media advisory (or a media alert) is an invitation issued to the media asking them to attend an event and to invite their audiences. For example, it may be an invitation to attend a new store or a book launch. It includes contact information journalists can use to ask more information, a headline, and a bulleted list of the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the event.
How to Structure Your Press Release
Writing a press release begins with choosing a newsworthy angle, then setting up your document and adding traditional and engaging copy and engagement elements to tell the story. However, these engaging elements will vary depending on your goals and the type of press release you are drafting. You can read more about what your press release should include by visiting our comprehensive guide on the types of press releases.
For a more in-depth look on how to write a press release, and a free press release template, read The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Press Release.
A press release is an approximately 500-word company announcement told in an objective, journalistic style. It contains an angle, resources (like quotes and multimedia), and company information media personnel can use to craft a story that would be of interest to their audiences. Companies should issue a press release to meet business goals, like spreading positive brand awareness or earning leads from a mass audience. They should then carefully target it to reach the right target audience that is likely to take action to further those goals.
If you need help writing and distributing your small business press release, eReleases can help. They offer professional press release writing and editing services, targeted national distribution services by industry and location, and press release analytics via plans starting at $299 per release. Click here to get started with eReleases.