- A press release is a timely marketing strategy that helps you share company news online and with media partners
- Consider a press release for a variety of newsworthy events, such as a rebranding, a product launch, an influencer partnership, or a new office location
- Writing a good press release starts with research and planning to maximize media coverage
When something new and exciting happens in your business, you want to shout it from the rooftops. Writing a digital press release is one of the more effective ways to get the word out. In short, the purpose of a press release is to make an official, time-sensitive announcement about your company. Brands create them—also called “news releases” or “media releases”—to alert news media to timely developments in their business in hopes of spurring press coverage, like media articles and on-air news segments.
All small business owners can benefit from learning how to craft a press release. As an important extension of your online marketing strategy, a great press release helps tell your company’s story while also improving your visibility in the market.
Learn how to write, format, and distribute a press release to get your business updates in front of a wider audience.
What are the benefits of writing a press release?
Press releases encourage the media and other influential followers to spread the word about a development in your business. For instance, different types of press releases could update readers about new partnerships, awards, services, projects, and products.
This strategy helps you reach new audiences—such as viewers of a local news station—and also builds authority within your existing following. According to public relations software company Cision’s 2021 State of the Press Release Report, industry experts said their business benefited from a press release in the following ways:
- 68% saw increased brand visibility
- 36% said it reinforced their market position as a thought leader
- 30% built stronger relationships with journalists
Press releases can also improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). If you publish your press release on your site, search engines pick up relevant keywords which can boost your company’s overall rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). Backlinks—links to your website from the press release—are another of the most powerful factors for improving your overall website rankings on SERPs.
How to write a press release
An effective press release grabs the reader’s attention so they want to learn more about what’s happening with your small business outside of the announcement of the press release. It can also supplement your other content marketing efforts—blog posts, podcasts, social media, and more. While this other content can be published at any time, a press release should be distributed right before or after an event occurs.
From crafting your press release headline to getting it in front of the right media contacts, follow these steps to create an effective press release.
1. Review other press release examples
A press release should be short and sweet. In just a few paragraphs, you must convey the key takeaways to an audience who may read hundreds of releases a day—primarily journalists, influencers, and other industry experts.
To start, determine whether your news is worthy of a press release. New product lines, an office relocation, or an individual or company winning an award are all examples of newsworthy topics to feature in a press release.
Once you’ve decided to issue a news release, get inspired by looking at examples of other news releases that worked to determine your approach. When evaluating other press releases, ask yourself the following questions:
- What did this press release do well?
- What about this news release inspired me to learn more about the company’s efforts?
- How did this press release capture my attention?
- How much information was enough to get the point across—both in length and word count?
Pro tip: The maximum length for a press release is around 300 to 400 words. This gives you the best chance of being picked up by multiple news agencies.
2. Write your lede
You might have heard this phrase before without knowing it’s a common journalism tip: “Don’t bury the lede.” The lede (also sometimes spelled “lead”) is the first sentence of any written piece, and it should capture the reader’s attention while conveying your reason for writing.
Generally, it’s preceded by a headline—a shorter version of your lede that should include relevant keywords.
To start, think about the reason you’re creating a press release in the first place. If you had only a few minutes, how would you summarize the update to your friend? Think of it like an elevator pitch for this particular announcement. Often, this will be your lede—and you want it to stand out.
For example, grocery delivery service Flink and online magazine Press for Champagne teamed up in their press release with the lede: “Cold champagne within ten minutes.” This crafty phrase grabs the attention of readers and highlights what the companies will share in the release that follows.
3. Create a rough draft of your press release format
In the rough draft of your press release, think about your target audience. Why would a journalist care about the events or news shared? Is it unique, inspiring, celebratory, unexpected, or does it stand out from the crowd in some other way? The background information that follows your header should give the reader some stakes as to why this matters.
Start by outlining the most important points to convey in your press release. Some journalists suggest covering the 5 W’s of a news event: who, what, when, where, why. Make sure you answer each question within the body paragraphs. A good press release should also include the following boilerplate elements:
- Headline: Use an attention-grabbing headline that highlights the main point of the release, such a new product launch
- “For immediate release:” This statement should be included immediately beneath the headline, unless the information is embargoed until a specific date
- First paragraph: An overview of the update or news to set up the rest of the body copy
- Body paragraphs: Provide more details about the news story and the stakeholders involved; use short paragraphs with 3-4 sentences each
- Phone number and contact information: Include your company’s main media contact or spokesperson (even if that’s you)
- Company website and social media links
4. Distribute your press release
Before you send out a press release, ask a trusted friend or staffer to proofread it. A second pair of eyes can help you spot mistakes in your press release before it’s too late to change.
Next, create a list of media contacts who might be interested in your press release. Look at local coverage for other businesses to see who has published releases before. Most companies have an online submission service or database of emails. You can also use a tool like Hunter.io to find contact details.
Email is one of the best ways to reach journalists, who often share their contact information in their byline or on public relations platforms like Muckrack. For an email press release, use the document’s headline as the email subject line and keep it to nine words or 60 characters. You can also submit your news release to a press release distribution service like Newswire, EIN Presswire, or PR Newswire.
Lastly, the timing of your release matters: Avoid emailing journalists on a Friday afternoon or during the weekend since these are typically dead zones for the media. Instead, submit your press release during the work week.
5. Promote your own press release
Hopefully, your press release will get picked up by news outlets, bloggers, or social media influencers who will share it with their audiences. If/when it does, be sure to share this coverage on your own channels.
But even if the media hasn’t picked up your press release, you can still build momentum by publishing your company news on social media, your blog, or via your email newsletter. Whether it’s a timely event press release or a product launch press release, the more views you can get in these early hours and days, the better.
Send your first press release like a pro
If your small business or startup has something newsworthy to share, use it as an opportunity to draft your first media release. In the meantime, brainstorm about the kinds of events that should prompt releases in the future. You can also create an internal press release template to use whenever you launch a product, update services, or need to communicate company news.
Once you’ve determined how to write the best press release for your business, check out how to create a PR kit to promote your small business.