How and When to Write a Press Release: Best Practices and Tips [w/ Free Template]
When it comes to events, product releases or newsworthy projects, press releases can gain a lot of traction in media outlets — as long as they are executed properly. Benefits go beyond brand awareness, as press releases can drive traffic to your website with strategic linking and serve as great targeted link building tools.
But actually writing the press release can be a challenge. In this article, we’ll be explaining how to write a press release and the best practices for knowing when to write one.
When Should You Create a Press Release?
Typically, there are three main newsworthy categories that will warrant a press release:
- Product Releases – New products or upgrades to existing products can be great to announce via press release. Industry publications regularly accept new product releases as viewers often want to know the latest trends and technology within their industry.
- Events – These are perfect for outreach as industry publications are often very interested in important expos, conferences or other events. In addition, the websites of the event often share content from sponsors and exhibitors.
- Other Newsworthy Happenings – Of course, there are always other matters that may come around. Things like big hires at your company, winning an award or charitable efforts are other great announcements to make through a press release.
If your company can regularly produce valuable content that is relevant to your target audience, you will be able to build relationships with journalists that will pay dividends in the future.
When Not to Write a Press Release
As we’ve mentioned, not all situations warrant a press release. Sometimes other content options are more valuable in that they will reach your target audience more efficiently, and they are more likely to be distributed further.
Press releases are meant to capture the interest of reporters for further investigation. If the information won’t pique the interest of individuals, think twice about whether you should invest time writing a press release or instead spend some time creating content to share on your blog.
Tips for Distribution
Distribution is a key aspect of any successful press release. If you can’t get into any publications, you just wasted your time learning how to write a press release for very little exposure and zero link building opportunities. Make sure you follow these distribution tips for maximum effectiveness:
- Make it Valuable – Neil Patel has offered very succinct but very accurate advice for this article: “Offer value in return for the link – that’s the most important thing.” Understand that your piece is only worthy of distribution if the readers can find value in it. If it is something of interest and relevant to that publication’s reader base, you’re all set!
- Keep it Simple – This means you should avoid excessive formatting or branding in your release. Many publications have guidelines that need to be followed, and overly pushy material just won’t be accepted. Tone it down a bit, make it valuable to readers and you will find much higher success rates.
- Write a Catchy Headline – And add a subheading too. The more you give the reporter, the better. Plus, the more interesting the headline, the more likely it is to catch the reader’s attention.
- Offer Access to High-Resolution Images or a Media Kit – Reporters need this in order to publish, and knowing that this material is available will greatly increase your chances. Vital always adds something like, “We’d be happy to send along a media kit with high-resolution images if you are interested” or we will include a link to a DropBox file.
- Know Who You Are Pitching – Now, we don’t mean invite them over for dinner on Saturday night. What we do mean is understand what they write, know their audience and understand what is valuable to them. Provide value, and you will be rewarded. Don’t be the person who sends their real estate news to the sports reporter.
If you have past connections with reporters and editors, this is the time to utilize those relationships. If not, don’t fret. Do some background research on the individual you are contacting. What do they write about? What were their last few articles? Have they published anything like what you are pitching to them? Utilize this information to your benefit and make it known that you at least have seen their work, understand what they write about and know their audience.
Should You Pay to Play (Using services like PRWeb or PRNewswire)?
Once you’ve mastered how to write a press release, you may become curious about distribution services like PRWeb or PR Newswire. If you are interested in either, take a look at our post: PRWeb vs. PR Newswire. Without delving deep into either, a few insights can be made:
If you’re looking to get your release posted as widely as possible:
Then go for it! Pay for a press release distribution service. But keep in mind that your release may be buried deep on most sites, not adding much value or exposure to actual readers. You might get lucky, but there may be much better ways to spend that money. With this being said, paying for distribution is an effective way to get widely picked up without much effort.
If you’re looking for results that gain impressions to the right audience and builds quality links:
Save the money and invest some time into researching relevant publications and reporters. Take the time to learn where your release provides value and pitch it to those individuals. You’ll gain relevant links as well as exposure to the proper audience. In addition, you’ll begin to build relationships that will help your distribution efforts in the future. Getting featured in niche locations will do a better job of driving traffic and may lead to future link building opportunities.
Of course, investing both time and money would be the best option, but we understand this isn’t always an option.
Press Release Tips from the Best in the Business
The following top marketers, reporters and writers have spent years pitching and getting pitched, so they know better than anyone how to write a press release. Use their insight to help craft professional and effective press releases.
Subject Lines Are Important
Rick Fabrizio, Managing Editor of The Portsmouth Herald/Seacoast Online, knows that reporters are strapped for time. Make sure your “subject line clearly states the subject matter as it relates to the source of distribution.” Allowing for quick scans for relevance will ensure your email gets opened.
Be Available to Provide More Info
Kimberly Haas, Reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader, says her biggest issue “is when someone puts something out, and then nobody is available for an in-person interview.” Having a solid point of contact allows for the distribution of your story to expand beyond the press release — which ideally is just meant to invite more attention to the overarching story.
Think Outside the Box
Lexi Mills, key speaker at numerous SearchLove conferences by Distilled, Managing Director at Marquis Communication and award-winning digital marketing expert knows the ins and outs of both press release creation and distribution. Sometimes reaching out the old-fashioned way by contacting the media via phone can yield better results. This is more so a case for breaking news, but certainly should be noted. Make sure to thank individuals for their time and state the subject line of the follow-up email you will be sending.
Mills also offered a long-term strategy of understanding how publications adapt your content for distribution. Copyscape is a tool of choice which will allow you to easily see what aspects of your releases have been changed when publications push them live. Knowing how various publications differ in their styles and guidelines will allow you to draft better releases with even higher success rates in the future.
Now that you know how to write a press release you should be set to reap the benefits! Download our free press release template to get started.