Press releases are still a key part of the corporate communications arsenal.
Whether organizations send them to the media, stick them on their website, break them up into social media posts or use them to ensure a consistent message across the business, the press release is still very much alive and well.
What is a press release?
While organizations use press releases to promote their goods and services, they are not advertisement.
Press releases are short, factual news stories sent or given to the media to encourage editors/journalists/broadcasters to feature the story in their publications/programs.
Then they also are published on their originator’s website and adapted for company magazines, newsletters, ezines, emailers, etc.
Why You Need a Press Release?
A press release is a quick and easy tool for generating publicity about a newsworthy event or topic in the most objective way possible.
There are many benefits of publishing press releases. They are remarkably effective tools for controlling the narrative during a crisis or public health event. They halt speculation, build trust, and establish a central source of accurate information.
Additional benefits of writing and distributing newsworthy press releases include:
Free promotion on various media sites and blogs
Increased traffic to your website
Higher Rankings in Google News
Improved company trust and credibility
Strong brand identity.
Exclusivity is not available through social media communication alone.
When You Need a Press Release?
A press release is a great copywriting tool to leverage when you want to reveal something new or newsworthy.
Newsworthiness means a topic captures the attention of both media publications and your target audience. This typically involves timely, relevant, or impactful information or events that directly affect people in our local community or region.
A step-by-step guide to writing a press release:
Step 1: Ensure you have a newsworthy story
You need to have something new to say. If your client simply wants to promote a product or service because it is not selling well, you cannot just write about its benefits as you would in an ad or brochure. You need to find a newsworthy angle that you can find using the acronym TRUTH, where:
- T- Is the story TOPICAL or TIMELY?
- R – Is the story RELEVANT to the readers, viewers, and listeners?
- U – What is UNUSUAL or UNIQUE about this story?
- T – Is there any TROUBLE or TRAGEDY that would add TENSION?
- H – Where is the HUMAN interest?
Step 2: Target the right media sector
Like every other piece of effective copy, a press release should be written with a target audience in mind.
Step 3: Use the inverted pyramid to structure the press release
Structure your press release using the classic inverted pyramid template. This enables you to present the most important information first.
- The first para sums up the entire story in one or two sentences
- The second para sums up the entire story in one or two sentences.
- The third para presents details
- The fourth para includes a relevant quote to add information, credibility, and/or opinion.
- The fifth para shows where people can find more details and get involved etc.
Step 4: Write a newsworthy headline
The headline is crucial. Press release headlines do not only tell the readers what the story is about, they are your sales pitch to the media.
Step 5: Write in the third person.
As you are not writing to your target audience directly, you need to write your press release in the third person.
Step 6: Summarise the story in the opening paragraph.
The opening paragraph should complement the headline by giving a fuller explanation of what the story is about. The skill is to get the key information in without saying too much too soon. A good para should be able to stand alone. Think of it almost like a radio news bulletin.
Step 7: Put the story into context
If you think of the first para as ‘who is doing what or ‘what is happening now, the second and third para goes on to give you more detail and explain the ‘Why and how’ behind the ‘who and what
Step 8: Stick to one story per press release
Discipline yourself to recognize when one story ends and another one begins.
Step 9: Write a compelling quote
The quote is the one part of the press releases the media cannot change. So do not waste them with platitudes and repetition.
Press Release Best Practices
- Use your company/hospital/healthcare organization letterhead.
- Write an engaging but concise headline. Two hundred eighty characters should be your upper limit; however, it’s important to remember Google search results only display the first 55-70 characters.
- Include your company/hospital/organization name in the headline.
- Integrate the five “Ws” and one “H” in the first 1-2 paragraphs.
- Choose a perspective that will matter to your target audience (e.g., readers, journalists).
- Write in third person.
- Use double-spacing.
- Add keywords and supporting keywords.
- Keep bullet points to 1–3 concise sentences.
- Write simple, short sentences and short paragraphs.
- Do not include marketing or industry jargon.
- Include valuable research or background information.
- Include relevant images, headshots, videos, or links to supporting content. Remember to tie links to relevant text (e.g., avoid vague links like “Click here.”) and limit them to 1-3 per the press release.
- Review for spelling and grammar.
- Always end with contact information.
How to Properly Publish and Distribute Your Press Release
Here are tips for distributing, sharing, and repurposing your press release for maximum exposure:
- Select a press release distribution service.
- Selecting the right distribution service is essential for maximizing your exposure, especially industry-specific content. Here are a few things to consider when shopping around.
The distribution company should include:
- Industry-specific (e.g., healthcare industry and publications) channels
- Budget-friendly pricing
- Reporting capabilities
- A list of media outlets (e.g., news websites, aggregators, media outlets, news content systems, and all major news sites)
- Your intended/targeted audience
- Extra features (e.g., customizable, interactive content and the ability to add multimedia to your press release)
- Customer support (e.g., technical, proofreading, or editorial support)
- Reporting (e.g., actionable information, data, and metrics)
- Search and SEO visibility
- A secure and easy-to-use platform
Post published press releases on your website.
Once you’ve submitted your press release to your selected distribution company, post a summary on your website, either in the news or media section on your site. This will support SEO efforts, drive more traffic to your website, improve domain authority, and increase brand recognition.
Share published press releases via social media and email.
If your social media followers find your press release relevant and valuable, they will likely share it with friends, significantly and positively impacting website traffic. Likewise, sharing your press release to your list of patients, colleagues, and other community members via email keeps your hospital or organization top of mind and educates them about newsworthy events and topics. This strategy results in email forwarding to friends and family and driving new traffic to your website.
How to Repurpose & Share Press Release
Contact your favourite publications personally.
Share all positive media coverage.
Write a blog post about your press release.
Businesses that leverage social media to promote their press releases further boost traffic to their website, build search engine traffic, and increase public relations activity (e.g. radio and television interviews or quotes in newspapers and other publications).