Press releases give your business free press, but they’re only a valuable marketing tool when done right. What makes a good press release is several key ingredients, from an eye-catching headline and a compelling and shareable story that resonates with readers, to a call-to-action (CTA), high-quality media, and a top-notch distribution strategy. Follow along for the full breakdown to ensure yours is a success.
Keep in mind that what makes a good press release isn’t just the quality of your writing, but the quality of its distribution. Be sure that your press release gets to the right people in the right places at the right time by using a press release distribution service that offers multilayer targeting like Newswire.
Here are 13 key elements and examples of what makes a good press release.
1. Correct Press Release Formatting
Press releases follow a strict format. Regardless of your industry or topic, you need to include components like a headline, dateline, and boilerplate. The good news is that following the proper press release layout makes the writing process a bit more cut and dried. The bad news is that deviating from the accepted format can hurt the effectiveness of your release.
To ensure you include all the right components, we recommend checking out our guide on the correct Press Release Format along with instructions and an easy-to-use, free downloadable press release template. We provide simple instructions―including helpful images―to outline all the elements you need to include in your press release.
2. An Attention-grabbing Headline
Every press release starts at a disadvantage: it has to compete online with thousands of other releases, articles, videos, tweets, and status updates. To stand out, your headline has to immediately resonate and appeal to emotion–whether that’s intrigue, desire, fear, pride, or inspiration. After all, your headline is your first chance at making an impression and catching a reader’s eye.
Now, you don’t want to go overboard and risk sounding phony. Rather, consider what people care about when they scan headlines. New Report Ranks Top U.S. Cities for Bed Bug Infestations is a great example of a press release headline that demands attention without the need for hyperbole or drama.
3. A Story That Resonates With Its Audience
To craft a good press release that resonates with your audience, your business press release needs to reflect a good understanding of your target audience and what they care about. This can be achieved in several ways, but often involves using the type of language a particular audience expects, such as very professional for a law firm or laid back for a lifestyle brand and sharing a story that relates to them.
4. Answers Who, What, When, Where & Why
Another contributing factor to what makes a good press release is whether your release adequately covers the who, what, when, where, as well as the why of your news. This is the baseline for a good press release with all of the essential information a journalist needs to consider covering your story. While you don’t need to include an exhaustive amount of detail, you do need to include the gist of each of these elements.
5. Offers Readers Value
Journalists have different needs than your average reader. To reprint or rewrite your story, they need something that’s quotable and can fit a grander narrative. One great example of this is data. Journalists thrive on stories with statistics, charts, and graphs they can analyze and share with their own spin.
If data just isn’t relevant to your story, consider some fascinating celebrity or expert quotes. An angle like Naperville Nutrition Expert Recommends Easy Breakfasts can be just as factually juicy as a groundbreaking study.
6. Doesn’t Read Like an Advertisement
Your business can use press releases to get publicity, which can be a great form of advertising. However, if your press release reads like an advertisement, it’s unlikely that journalists will be interested in covering it. Journalists are looking to cover newsworthy stories, not ads, so you need to be sure that your press release reads like a news story vs a promotional piece.
7. Includes a CTA
Part of what makes a good press release is its ability to cause one or more specific actions you want the reader to take. This could be clicking a link to learn more about your business by visiting your website or something more specific, such as registering to attend an upcoming event.
Regardless of the action itself, every press release should include a CTA, which gives the readers more value and a way to contact you for more information. These are typically included in the form of a hyperlink at the end of the press release but may also be a CTA with a phone number or email contact.
8. Direct Contact Information Is Included
Contact information is a standard part of a press release, but the best press releases don’t just include generic business contact information. Instead, they provide a direct primary point of contact for members of the press. This makes it easier for journalists to get in touch, in return, increasing the odds that they will make contact and cover your story. Remember that the easier you make it for journalists, the better your chances are at publicity.
9. Media Is Embedded
Visually engaging press releases with compelling images or videos make press releases more attractive to journalists and interesting to readers. Press releases that include an image are seven times more likely to get picked up by the media, and those that include a video are 14X more likely to get coverage, according to Newswire, a leading press release distribution service.
For the most affordable press release distribution service that includes embedded multimedia for free, choose Send2Press.
10. Its Less Than One Page
A typical press release is just 300 to 500 words and, in that span, you need to include an engaging introduction, your story, and a boilerplate and CTA at the end. Remember that your press release doesn’t need to include every detail. Once you have a journalist’s attention, you can share a lot more during an interview. Focus on the key facts, big picture ideas, and intriguing snippets that make a journalist want to know more.
For those of us who aren’t used to this ultra-condensed type of writing, it can be easier to start with more, then cut back. Write whatever comes to mind for your initial draft. Then, go back and remove any repetitive, unrelated, or unnecessary statements.
11. It Reaches the Right People …
Distribution is a key element in the success of your press release, and it not only needs to reach people but the right people. Having the most incredible press release won’t matter if no one knows it exists, or if it lands in the hands of journalists who don’t cover your topic area.
For local businesses, this usually means reaching local media outlets. Whereas those in niche industries want to target their press release distribution to reach journalists who cover news about their industry.
In an ideal world, what makes a good a press release is not only reaching the right people but reaching the right people in the right places. The easiest way to do this is to use a press release distribution service like Newswire which offers multilayer targeting.
12. … and Many People …
Press release distribution is something of a numbers game. In most cases, it’s not enough to simply send your release to a select few journalists. Instead, for the best chance at landing publicity, distribute your press release to a high number of targeted journalists and media outlets. Since this is time-consuming to do manually, we recommend that you use one of the best press release distribution services.
13. … at the Right Time
Of course, it’s not just about reaching the right people with the right message, but also at the right time. Sending your press release at the last minute can result in extra fees from distribution services as it often costs more to send a press release the same day or the next day. What’s worse, it can also cost you your ability to land press.
Be strategic when it comes to distributing your press release in terms of timing, upcoming events, and current affairs. After all, your press release is competing for media attention, so you need to understand the market and what you’re up against at any given time. Additionally, be sure that there’s plenty of time for journalists to discover and read your press release, write about it, and publish it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a press kit and do I need one?
A press kit, also known as a media kit, provides key information about your business and it’s used to give interested journalists the information they need to craft a story. Press kits are generally available on a business’s website. However, they may also be distributed in other ways, such as with a press release. Learn more about press kits, including how to create a media kit for your business using our free template.
How do you write a press release?
As daunting as it may initially seem, writing a press release doesn’t have to be complicated. Download our free press release template and follow step-by-step instructions for how to write a press release. Start by updating the header with your business logo, contact information, and release date. Next, write a catchy headline and sub-headline, write the body of your press release, and add your boilerplate and a call-to-action.
Are there any free press release distribution services?
There are many free press release distribution services, although some are better than others and most are intended for specific use-cases. For example, while 1888PressRelease is best for free distribution to search engines and PR.com is best for distributing a release to journalists in a specific industry, NewswireToday offers free press release distribution for nonprofits. Learn more about the best free press release distribution services.
A press release can have a powerful impact―but only if it’s done right. What makes a good press release, first and foremost, is having a compelling story that brings value to your readers. Announcing a new location might be exciting enough for a local audience but, for a national audience, you need a story that will make them drop everything and click.
Make sure your efforts don’t go to waste by ensuring your press release gets the visibility it needs to land free publicity. To do this, use one of the top press release distribution services, such as Newswire, which offers multilayer targeting and a two-tier editorial process to ensure your press release is in top form and reaches a high number of targeted journalists.