Though the landscape has changed, press releases are still the number one way for small businesses to receive press. This is especially true with the advent of blogging and Google News Alerts, which many industry journalists use to find stories.
That said, not every press release will automatically make waves. To be effective, it has to stand out, tell a compelling story, and contain easily “shareable” content. These are the essential ingredients to what makes a good press release.
This guide covers that and everything else you should to do to prepare your press release – including:
- What Makes a Good Press Release
- The 3 Questions to Ask Before Writing a Press Release
- How To Write A Press Release
- How To Format Your Press Release
What Makes a Good Press Release?
Most businesses use a press release to announce a new product/service, a new location, or an upcoming event. Others use it to announce an industry award or share the findings of a study.
While these categories can help us get into the right mindset, they’re not actually the most important factor. To decide if a story is “press release worthy,” you need to consider one simple question: Is this story sharable?
In other words, will readers be drawn to your story amid the vast sea of headlines? Will journalists find intriguing data or quotes worthy of being reprinted?
The point is not to be discouraged – but to set the right expectations. Pretend you don’t know or care about your business. What will drive people TO CARE? This exercise is not only helpful to find the right story or angle, but it will help you to craft your headline and body later on.
The 3 Key Questions to Ask Before Writing a Press Release
To break things down, here are the key questions you should ask yourself before writing a press release:
1. Who is Your Audience?
Is it the whole country, or just your local area? Does it appeal to a particular industry, or readers with a particular interest?
Pinpointing your target audience means you can write from their perspective. For example, using technical jargon may be inappropriate for a general audience, but welcome to an audience of industry professionals.
2. Is Your Headline Going To Stand Out?
Every press release starts out at a disadvantage: It has to compete with thousands of other articles, videos, tweets, and statuses. To stand out, your headline has to immediately resonate and appeal to emotion – whether that’s intrigue, desire, fear, pride, or inspiration.
Now, you don’t want to go overboard and risk sounding phony. Rather, just consider what people care about when they flip through headlines. New Report Ranks Top U.S. Cities for Bed Bug Infestations is a great example of a headline that demands attention without the need for hyperbole or drama.
3. Will Journalists Be Eager To Share It?
Journalists have different needs than the 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 expert quotes. An angle like Naperville Nutrition Expert Recommends Easy Breakfasts can be just as factually juicy as a groundbreaking study.
How to Write a Press Release
Once you have the above 3 questions figured out, the next step is to think about what you’ll actually write.
Press release writing is the combination of two very different skills:
- You need to do more with less. A typical press release is just 300-500 words, and in that span, you need to include your entire story, including an engaging intro and a call-to-action at the end.
- You need to be a stickler on the rules. Press releases follow a standardized format. Following the format will give you a touch of professionalism and help you compete with the countless other press releases vying for attention.
What Do I Write About in a Press Release?
The simplest tip about what to include in the body of a press release is to answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how. Focus on these basic questions, and avoid any excess or unrelated details.
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 or unrelated statements.
If you’re having trouble cutting things out, 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. For a press release, focus on the key facts, big picture ideas, and intriguing snippets that will make a journalist want to know more.
For inspiration, check out these 28 Press Release Examples From The Pros.
How to Format a Press Release
Press releases follow a strict format. Regardless of your industry or topic, you’ll need to include components like a headline, dateline, and boilerplate. The good news is this makes the writing process a bit more cut and dry. The bad news is deviating from this format can hurt the effectiveness of your release.
To help ensure you include all the right components, we recommend checking out our guide on the Press Release Format along with instructions & an easy to use template. We give you simple instructions – including helpful images – to outline all the components you need to include in your press release.
The Bottom Line
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 will bring value to readers’ everyday lives. Announcing a new location might be exciting enough for a local audience. But for a national audience, you need something that will make them drop everything and click. If you haven’t found this hook just yet, it might be worth waiting until inspiration strikes.
For more tips on writing a press release, be sure to check out our guide Top 5 Press Release Mistakes.