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Camille Furby

Published on

May 16, 2023


public relations

Press releases are one of the most effective communication strategies for public relations in terms of distributing information to the media. Also referred to as a news or media release, companies distribute press releases for a variety of reasons, but ultimately the purpose of a press release is to serve as a direct method of sharing news with the press with the aim of gaining media coverage. Press releases can cover a variety of topics, from introducing new leaders to promoting special company events. Writing press releases and distributing them on a regular basis can boost your brand’s credibility, while also exposing your content to a wider audience.

Step 1: Get To Know Your Audience

When deciding on your topic of focus to raise brand awareness, it’s very important to keep your primary audience in mind. Most often times a journalist sifting through an abundance of public relations-related releases, your audience is more likely to react to an effective press release when the content is framed to grab their attention with important information. You do not want to accidentally reach out to people who might be interested in your services. For example, you would not want to be working for a technology company, and create a press release targeting sports fans. You and your fellow employees should stay focused, and think about how to come up with a strong narrative for your release. Seeing how media outlets, and most importantly your target audience, respond to your topic can be an invaluable tool when it comes time to outlining your narrative. Before beginning to write your release for media outlets, take some time to research the publications and journalists you’re planning on pitching for press coverage to ensure they cover your area of focus and align with your target audience.

news release

Related: 4 Key Elements of a Successful Media Relations Strategy

Step 2: Prioritize Your Headline  When Writing Press Releases

A good attention-grabbing headline from PR professionals generally consists of a short title, around 65 to 80 characters, that clearly communicates what the press release is about. Since the headline is the first thing readers, including people from your target audience, will see in a good press release, it’s important to clearly highlight why your news is relevant as a way to spark a reaction. Ideally, the initial idea is to communicate the major focus of the press release enough to prompt your target audience to read the full story.

Think of a press release title like a major headline in a newspaper. When crafting your attention-grabbing headline to share important information and raise brand awareness, it’s important to incorporate action verbs that are clear and direct in order to make it compelling. You will want to be persuasive with your words and find a balance of being informative and entertaining. Keep in mind that hundreds of press releases go out each day, so be sure to structure your title to one line that clearly draws your audience’s attention to the topline message. In terms of a concise and effective press release format, be sure to position the headline in the top center of your release in 14 pt font to ensure it is clearly legible.

Step 3: Lead With The News Value

A great press release is a balancing act, meaning it should contain enough key information to give your readers a general idea of what’s taking place, without leaving them feeling like they know the entire story. When it comes time to start writing the bulk of your release for press coverage, the lead helps summarize the most crucial parts of the news you are trying to convey. Typically consisting of around 35-50 words, the lead sets the stage for the dateline which covers when and where the event is taking place. A good rule of thumb to remember is that the dateline is always the starting point of your first body paragraph, which is written in bold. 

Just like any great news story, a good press release focuses on the facts. Following the dateline, your body paragraph should be structured in a way that clearly answers “the five W’s” of journalism: who, what, when, where and why. Ideally, the goal of the body is to note all relevant details of the story while also communicating your brand’s direct involvement. Similar to an inverted pyramid style approach to writing, remember to include the most relevant details at the beginning when writing a press release, and include less vital details as you go on. You only have one shot at a first impression, so it is good to start press releases as strong as possible. By weaving your promotional or newsworthy content into a broader context, journalists are more likely to envision how your topic would fit into a story of their own.

online news value, press release

Step 4: Strengthen the Overall Narrative

To help strengthen the overall narrative when writing a press release, your release should seek to include credible data points and/or third-party quotes that validate the newsworthy tone of your announcement. Typically on the behalf of a relevant spokesperson, quotes are a great way to provide deeper context around the news you are releasing, while also establishing credibility for your brand. Quotes are the one area within your press release where you can incorporate some emotional appeal for your audience, so be sure to use this opportunity to include a short statement from a well-established thought leader that clearly drives your message home. 

Hyperlinks can be equally effective for PR professionals in making a press release more “evergreen” rather than a time-sensitive announcement. Incorporating hyperlinks and specific keywords throughout your body paragraphs can have a substantial impact on increasing referral traffic, search engine optimization and overall exposure. Relying on keyword research tools, for example, Google Keyword Tool, are great resources for optimizing your press release in order to have a lasting impact with your audience. By researching specific keywords that appropriately fit within your press release, your content is more likely to appear as a top result for major search engines.

Step 5: Finalize And Distribute

A boilerplate is similar to an “About Us” section in that it offers a detailed and slightly in-depth background of your company in 100 words or less. Situated at the bottom of your press release, the boilerplate should convey the unique positioning of the company, while also including accolades such as recognitions, such as awards and certifications, noteworthy metrics, and a link back to the company website. To avoid any confusion, the standard format for sending a press release is indicated by three hash marks situated under the closing paragraph. It is also highly recommended to include visually appealing components to help draw your target audience into reading more of the press release. High-quality pictures and videos can be created to create further engagements with the press releases.  

Before  finalization and distribution of a press release, be sure to proofread your work. It is publicly embarrassing when you realize that even after all of your hard work, there are still typos and other grammatical errors that make it into the press release. It is best to not rush and set some time to look over your words with a fine-tooth comb.  Not only should you look over your work, but you can also show releases to other employees and get their feedback. Other people at your company should have helpful feedback and make your releases as strong as possible.

Similar to how it is in social media marketing, the timing of when you distribute your press release is crucial. Releasing something too early, too late or during holidays can result in press releases not being as successful as anticipated. Rather than sending your release out in an email blast, focus on creating a concrete list of journalists with experience covering your industry and topic. If you decide to use a release distribution service like PR Newswire, be sure to send your contacts a personalized email prior to distribution. Lastly, you will need to include your media contact details for reporters to be able to get in touch with you. Be sure to include contact information, such as your full name, title, phone number and email address to ensure you receive any inbound requests.

sending out a press release

To reference a few examples of different types of press releases, view this list.

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