What Is a Press Release? Definition & Why You Need Them
The definition of a press release (also known as a news release or media release) is a concise document that presents newsworthy information in journalistic style. It discusses the who, when, where, how, what, and why of a news story or announcement for the purpose of getting additional media coverage. They also follow a specific format that may vary slightly depending on the type of press release issued.
Press release services like eReleases have mastered the art of writing press releases and distributing them for maximum impact. Take advantage of their affordable services to get the most media coverage for your company’s story.
The Purpose of Press Releases
Ultimately, the purpose of press releases is to earn positive media coverage. This could be proactive, such as building brand awareness, announcing an expansion, or launching new products or services. Alternatively, the purpose of a press release could be reactive, such as to counteract negative media coverage or explain why something went wrong.
A press release should be purposeful and tie back to specific business goals. For example, marketing press releases can be issued to get local media news coverage of company milestones and new product and service offerings. Brands can garner local and industry coverage with news media releases announcing prominent new hires or industry breakthroughs.
Here are some of the common business goals that drive the issue of press releases:
- Brand awareness: Press releases can increase brand awareness in multiple ways. For example, services like eReleases can place press releases in news outlets for specific regions, industries, and audience demographics. They also send press releases to individual journalists and publication editors who frequently cover stories intended for your same target audience. Also, businesses will often issue press releases before publicity stunts to ensure maximum media coverage.
- Brand image: Media releases can be used to position your organization in a positive light. For example, you might use press releases to showcase philanthropic events you’re hosting or recent donations. They can also be issued for brand image repair, such as a crisis press release issued following negative press or to show how your company responded to fix a problem in your business.
- Professional credibility: A positive newsworthy announcement—like a new business launch, a merger, a new hire press release, or an award announcement—helps to position your company as a more credible one.
- Industry leadership: Press releases can secure your business’ reputation as an industry leader. A product breakthrough, for example, can position your company as a leading innovator in your industry. You can also tout your company’s successes in press releases targeted at journalists and media outlets covering your industry’s news.
- New leads: With exposure comes 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 call to action that contributes to lead generation, such as a link that leads to a high-converting landing page on your website.
- Sales: When announcing a product, merger, acquisition, or new business launch, a press release can help attract prospective buyers to your new endeavor. Often, this targeted exposure leads to more sales.
- Events: Get the media to attend and cover your events, such as open houses, grand openings, or VIP customer events, by issuing a media advisory in advance of the occasion.
A great way to learn more about what a press release is and how to use them effectively is to see how other businesses use them. See how other companies have used press releases to target specific business goals by checking out these press release examples. You’ll find more than a dozen examples of highly effective media releases for inspiration to write your company’s story.
Then, when you’re ready, read our article detailing how to write a press release step-by-step. It includes a free press release template you can download and use to write your press release more easily and increase your chances of gaining additional media coverage.
How Press Releases Work
Businesses create and send press releases to share newsworthy information with journalists and media outlets. These press contacts and media outlets are also actively sourcing newsworthy press releases.
When they find a press announcement with news they think will capture their audience’s interest, they will write a story about it. This gives the organization publishing the press release free publicity and may even produce a significant amount of additional exposure.
Thus, the key to a successful press release is having a meaningful story or significant announcement. For example, various types of press releases might be distributed to cover anything from the announcement of a new product, a merger or acquisition, or to announce a significant new hire, such as a C-level executive.
However, it won’t matter how well-written your press release is if it doesn’t actually contain a compelling story. Journalists are looking for stories that are relevant, timely, and of interest to their audiences—whether due to prominence or proximity. Learn more about what to include and ways to increase the chance your story will be picked up by the media in our article on what makes a good press release.
Why Use the Press Release Format
Press release elements, like the headline, subhead, and body, are specifically designed to pique the interest of members of the media to gain additional coverage. Other components, such as media contact information, images or videos, links to additional resources, and the press release boilerplate section, provide guidance to help journalists and media outlets easily produce additional coverage.
Press releases that are compelling and distributed effectively are more likely to earn positive media coverage, increasing brand awareness and interest in a business with its target audience. You can see the format media professionals use and get a free template in our article with the steps for how to write an AP style press release.
For the best chance of earning more coverage, press releases need to not only follow the right format, but also be written and distributed effectively. From finding the right angle to tips for writing and sending your press release, read through our list of press release best practices.
Top Press Release Resources for Small Businesses
Now that you know what a press release is, make sure you have all the tools and resources you need to write a press release that gets picked up. Here are some of the top resources for writing and distributing press releases, including affordable, cheap, and free tools and services:
- Press release writing: eReleases is our top pick overall for best press release writing services. However, for the most affordable press release writing, freelance writers at Fiverr are your best bet.
- Press release distribution: Targeted distribution within your desired locale, industry, and audience is key for getting the highest return on investment with press releases. Check out our list of the best press release distribution services, topped by EIN Presswire.
- Copy optimization: In addition to writing your release with the right format, you can also increase its visibility in online search engines like Google using keywords. Semrush tops our list of the best tools for keyword research, and you can use it to research up to 10 keywords daily for free.
- Free press release templates: From how to write a boilerplate to specific types of press releases, we have preformatted press release templates you can use to simplify and speed up the process. For the template most likely to appeal to journalists, use our AP press release template and step-by-step guide.
- Free services: Even if your budget is zero, you can use press releases to build your brand and promote your business. Check out our list of the best free press release distribution services.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is a press release advertising?
In a sense, yes, a press release is a form of advertising. It’s a brand-sponsored media announcement intended to produce positive press for your business on a specific topic. It also typically requires the investment of marketing or advertising funding, whether you choose to hire a professional to write your press release or get the most exposure through paid distribution platforms like EIN Presswire and eReleases.
Is a press release the same thing as a media alert?
Press releases and media alerts are different. A press release includes important information journalists need to decide if a company story would interest their target audience. A media advisory (or media alert) is an invitation issued asking journalists to attend an event and invite their audiences. For example, a media alert may contain an invitation to attend a new book launch vs a book press release that simply announces its publication.
How do you write a press release?
The process of how to write a press release that will get picked up by the media begins with developing a newsworthy angle and setting up a document in a standard press release format. Next, write engaging copy backed by supporting elements like images, charts, graphs, or video. Learn more about what your press release should include and get a free template with the proper press release format.
Press releases are the best means for sharing company news and announcements with journalists to get publicity for your business. To successfully land coverage, your release needs to be relevant to journalists and your target audience, and must be distributed to the right outlets and individuals.
If you’ve decided that you want professional help to write and distribute your media announcement, you can’t go wrong with eReleases. eReleases provides a one-stop shop for press release writing, proofing, search optimization, and both geographic and industry-targeted distribution.
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