Our starter guide to writing a great press release
Press releases are a key part of the way businesses communicate, whether announcing a brand new product or reacting to industry events. They’re part of the everyday news that we read, and can be found on specialist websites and in your local paper. As a writer, being able to produce a timely and engaging press release is an incredibly valuable skill.
Crafting the perfect press release can take a lot of time, but if you need to respond quickly to breaking news then having a good grasp of the basics is essential. Here’s our top tips on how to lay out a standard release:
1 – Introduce your story.The headline needs to be short, snappy and to the point. Make sure that all of the key information is in the first paragraph. If your release is hidden behind a shorter ‘jump’ online, then this can sum up your story – and if it’s going into print, many people may not read beyond this first block of copy. An attention-grabbing extract is more likely to resonate with your readers, so getting this first section just right increases the chances of your press release being shared on social media and featured on news wires.
2 – Cover the five ‘W’s. As part of the introduction to your press release, give readers five key points: who, what, where, when, why. Name the subject and state their news in the headline (e.g. ‘Brand X launches their new, smaller Y at the Z Centre on Jan 4th’) – this is an instant digest of the message you’re trying to deliver to readers.
3 – Go into more detail.After stating the subject of the release, build the story with further information. The tone of a press release is positive and factual, without the more personal opinions you’d show in a blog post or article. Using uncomplicated, plain English and concrete facts throughout will make your release far more readable. For better exposure and brand awareness online, make sure you carefully pick keywords that will enhance your release from an SEO perspective and improve its chances of being noticed by the right audience.
4 – Make a brief summary. Bring the release to a close with a short recap, adding a little more detail if needed. For example, if the story is about an upcoming event, the final paragraph should have the location and date/time information near to the end. Links back to your website should always be a natural mix of contextual, brand and URL in line with best practice for SEO. After the story, any extra information can be placed in the ‘Notes to Editors’ section.
It’s unusual for a press release not to contain a quote; a key person involved with the story should add their comments. Choosing the ideal snippet for your release is crucial, as it needs to be both relevant to and fully supportive of the main story.