Ever wondered how to share your exciting news with the world? The press release is your answer. It’s an essential tool in the public relations toolkit, allowing businesses to share updates, events, and other newsworthy items with the press. To help you write a press release, we’ve compiled some of our top tips.
What is a Press Release?
A press release is an official statement delivered to news media members to provide information, create an official statement, or make an announcement. Written in a compelling and clear format, a well-constructed press release is a powerful tool in business communications.
History of the Press Release
Ivy Lee, a pioneer in public relations, introduced the first press release in 1906, amid a crisis. The Pennsylvania Railroad, one of Lee’s clients, had been involved in a tragic accident in Atlantic City that resulted in more than 50 deaths.
At the time, businesses typically kept negative news under wraps, avoiding the press as much as possible. However, Ivy Lee decided to take a radically different approach. Instead of hiding the event, he urged the Pennsylvania Railroad to issue a public statement, detailing the facts of the accident as they knew them. This became the first press release.
Lee then distributed this statement to journalists, making it far easier for them to report accurately on the event. The New York Times was so impressed with this straightforward, factual account that they printed it verbatim.
So, why was the press release created? Lee recognised the need for organisations to communicate directly and honestly with the public, especially during crisis situations. His strategy was to get in front of the story, provide accurate information, and manage the narrative, rather than letting rumours or inaccuracies dominate the discourse.
This approach proved hugely successful and marked a turning point in how businesses handled public relations. The press release has since become a standard tool for communicating company news, showing that transparency and openness often lead to a more positive public perception.
It’s a fascinating slice of history and an essential piece of understanding why the press release holds such an important place in public relations today.
Benefits of Writing a Press Release
Writing a press release may seem like a difficult task, but the benefits it can bring to your business are huge.
Build Brand Awareness
Press releases are an effective way to gain publicity and increase brand awareness. By getting your story into the hands of journalists, bloggers, and influencers, you can spread the word about your company, product, or event to a broader audience.
Improve Search Engine Rankings
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a way for businesses to get found when someone searches on a search engine such as Google. Press releases distributed online can include links back to your website, helping to increase your site’s search engine ranking. Online PR or Digital PR is a service agencies use to put their clients in the media to help them grow their business.
Shape Public Perception of Your Business
Press releases allow you to control the narrative. They provide an opportunity to shape public perception of your business, highlighting achievements and addressing issues head-on. This can be referred to as crisis management.
Crisis management refers to the process by which an organisation handles disruptive and unexpected events that threaten to harm the organisation or its stakeholders. These events could range from a significant operational failure or financial irregularity, to reputational damage caused by negative publicity.
A well-executed crisis management plan involves identifying potential risks, preparing for them, and implementing a controlled response when they occur. This ensures that the organisation can effectively navigate the crisis, minimise the damage, and recover as quickly as possible.
When a crisis hits, one of the first things stakeholders, including customers, investors, and the media, want is information. A press release can provide this information quickly and concisely. By distributing a press release, you ensure that a single, unified message reaches all stakeholders simultaneously.
A press release allows you to control the narrative surrounding the crisis. Rather than allowing misinformation or speculation to spread, a well-written press release provides a factual, authoritative account of the situation.
Issuing a press release during a crisis demonstrates transparency. By openly acknowledging the situation and outlining the steps you’re taking to resolve it, you help to maintain or restore trust among your stakeholders.
When to Write a Press Release
Knowing when to write a press release is as important as knowing how. Key moments could be launching a new product, securing a high-profile partnership, achieving a significant milestone, or hosting an event. The trick is ensuring the information is genuinely newsworthy. In digital PR you may write a press release when you have carried out a pro active or reactive digital pr campaign.
How to Write a Press Release
Writing a press release that gets your company media coverage can be difficult and that’s why some businesses will turn to an external PR agency but if you want to write your own press release, starting with a proven template is always a good choice.
Press Release Template
Headline: This should be short, clear, and to the point, succinctly conveying the news you’re announcing. When creating a headline, think of the outlets you want your story to appear in and use something similar.
Date and location: The city where the news is originating and the date of the release. This helps establish relevancy.
The ‘lede’: The opening paragraph, summarises the most important aspects of the story. This should tell the journalist everything they need to know and should contain the who, what, where, when and why.
Body: The main part of your press release. Keep it factual, engaging, and concise.
Quote: A quote from a company spokesperson or expert gives the press release a human touch and adds credibility.
Boilerplate: A brief description of the company, typically placed at the end.
Contact information: Name, phone number, and email address of the press contact.
Press release examples
Here are some press release examples to get you started:
Sending your press release
Before you hit ‘send’, take a moment to review your press release. Is it newsworthy? Does it contain all the necessary information? Is it free from jargon and errors? Remember, your press release is a reflection of your business, so ensure it’s polished and professional.
Finally, consider your timing. Sending your press release at the right time can help it gain more traction.
Mastering how to write a press release can reap considerable benefits for your business. With some practice and these tips in your toolbox, you’ll be well on your way to writing a press release that gets your story heard.