Biz Tips: The Best Press Release Format In 6 Simple Steps

Biz Tips: The Best Press Release Format In 6 Simple Steps

Biz Tip:

The Best Press Release Format In 6 Simple Steps

press release formats

With instant access to news headlines and social media, you’d be forgiven for wondering whether press releases are even a thing anymore. The truth is press releases still have much to offer as part of your overall marketing strategy. Including keywords and phrases ensures they also help improve our SEO rankings. However, the challenge is getting it right. Journalists receive hundreds of press releases every day. Standing out from the crowd is difficult, but it’s not impossible. In this post, we share some tips and advice on the best press release format in six simple steps. So, let’s get started.

Different Press Release Styles

A press release is an official company announcement that is shared with journalists and media outlets.

However, it has to be newsworthy. When deciding whether to issue a press release, the golden rule is to answer the so what question. Will it interest editors enough so that they feel inspired to write a story? Remember, media outlets receive a ton of news releases every day. And so, the topic has to be something out of the ordinary. You may be very excited about your revamped and relaunched website, but reporters are unlikely to find it newsworthy.

Furthermore, your press release format must be short. Aim for just one-page of focused, high-quality content.

Some companies have taken a fresh approach to press releases and have issued video news releases. This works well if your product or brand is highly visual, and you want to showcase some exciting new features.

Luxury car company Chevrolet is an excellent example of how to combine a traditional press release with a slick supplementary video. Check out the press release for the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette to see how it’s done.

Here are some examples of when to consider issuing a press release:

New product launches: A news press release formatted to highlight the benefits of a new product is a great way to generate a buzz. However, try not to make the mistake of running through the product’s specifications. Instead, make sure you highlight what’s different about the product and the solutions it offers.

Events: Hosting or sponsoring an industry conference? A press release is a really useful promotion tool. It will help publicize the event and interest within the industry.

Mergers and acquisitions: This is an excellent opportunity to inform stakeholders and industry peers about your ambitions and company growth. Make it real by including quotes with the press release from all the senior leaders involved.

New partnerships: Working in pioneering partnerships with other organizations are also worthy of a press release. Highlighting the innovatory aspects enhances your brand authority and makes you stand out.

Rebranding: For stakeholders, customers, and prospects, a company rebranding can be difficult and confusing. A press release helps with achieving a smoother transition. Use it to explain the reasons behind the rebranding and to detail what’s changed.

Awards: Winning a prestigious industry award definitely qualifies you for full bragging rights. And it helps to cement your brand authority and company profile.

New executive hires: People enjoy reading news and stories about other people. So, if you have a new CIO or Board chair, then a press release will emphasize your business’s human face.

Now you have identified the topic, let’s look at writing the perfect news release.

Press Release Formatting

So what does a press release look like? In general, most press releases have the following sections:

  • Headline
  • Dateline & Lead
  • Body
  • Supporting Content

The following six steps are designed to help you create the perfect press release in the right format and style:

Step #1: Make Your Headlines Compelling

The subject line is the hook that draws in the reader. If your headline is not eye-catching and memorable, then your press release will end up in the trash. There are no second chances, so it’s essential to get it right.

But how do you write a catchy headline? The trick is to keep it short, be direct, and use everyday language. Try to incorporate action words. Instead of the standard ‘launches’, ‘announces’ and ‘partners’, think ‘delivers’, ‘declares’, and ‘connects’.

Other useful techniques include answering a question or applying alliteration. The ‘perfect power-packed punch’ alliteration is a technique that pairs together words with a similar sound. And as you can see, it’s an engaging way to grab the reader’s attention.

Step #2: Get To The Point

The next step is to craft an opening paragraph that briefly summarises the key messages. Journalists and editors need to know upfront about why they should pay attention. They don’t have time for background information and unnecessary waffle.

In your first paragraph, be sure to address the essential questions of who, what, why, where, and how. Whether it’s a product launch or a new partnership, tick off these boxes in the opening statement for maximum impact.

However, try to avoid echo headlines where you simply say the same thing in your headline and opening sentence.

For summarising where and when the news is happening, there is a standard called AP style, from the Associated Press. This is used by lots of journalists that may drive more exposure for you if used due to your press release format looking more professional. There is quite a bit to learn on this topic, so much so that several books have been written on this topic. Your dateline and lead should pay attention to these styles.

Step #3: Develop The Supporting Content

In the next couple of paragraphs, you can afford to present more supporting information. The press release body is your opportunity to demonstrate why the information is relevant to the reader.

Journalists employ a useful technique called the inverted pyramid. You start with the most relevant information at the top. And in the following paragraphs, you move on to less vital detail. The inverted pyramid technique makes it easier for readers to find the relevant information.

It’s a good idea to include supporting quotes in the press release. A couple of well-chosen observations from senior executives, stakeholders, or partners add credibility and personality.

Another possibility is to incorporate your own data and research. Journalists love an exclusive, and they also love hard facts and figures. So, look to include original research if possible. And when referring to data, insert a hyperlink so the reporter can check out extra detail.

Some companies have used a technique known as newsjacking to piggyback their news story. This involves making the press release directly relevant to a trending issue in the news or social media. Newsjacking can make your press release come across as being relevant and on-point.

Be sure to get a colleague to proofread the final press release. Content with distracting typos or annoying grammatical errors is likely to be ignored.

And it’s also worth getting someone unconnected to the topic to have a read-through the press release. You want to be sure you have clearly answered the who, what, why, when, and how questions. The aim is to get confirmation from someone unfamiliar with the topic that your message is loud and clear.

Step #4: Craft Engaging Boilerplate Content

The boilerplate is a standard feature in press releases. It’s a short statement describing what your company does and what it stands for. It provides essential context for the press release. And the content is usually standard across all press releases. Be sure to include your company logo for visual recognition.

The boilerplate is just as important as the main body of the press release. Don’t be tempted to rush this vital step in the process. The good news is once you have successfully drafted your boilerplate, you can use it again and again.

Identify the boilerplate content with a different font or a shaded box so it stands out. That way, it’s clear where the press release finishes, and it also makes it look shorter.

And don’t forget to include contact details of a staff member reporters can get in touch with for more information.

Step #5: Distribute The Press Release

Crafting the press release is only half the battle. Now, you have to distribute it to media outlets. There are a couple of well-established distributions channels you can use. The likes of PR Newswire or Business Wire will get the job done, but their services come at a cost. And it’s also a missed opportunity as you are not personally connecting with the media.

Instead, you can try reaching out to reporters directly yourself. However, rather than emailing every journalist you can find, take a more targeted approach. Focus on a few reporters who write about or specialize in your industry. And then send a personalized email with a pitch that makes the press release relevant to what they are already writing about. Reporters need stories. And building good personal relationships could pay dividends for your brand in the long run.

Furthermore, rather than sending an email as everyone else does, why not consider mailing a hard copy of the press release? Doing so could well make your press release stand out.

And if you are using a distribution service, consider the timing of your publication. Timing is often the difference between success and failure. Most companies schedule their press releases for publication on the hour (for example, 9 am or 2 pm). Publishing yours at an unusual time, such as 9.37 am, makes it more likely your news release will get maximum exposure. It will land at a time when editors and reporters are willing and able to read through it.

Whether self-publishing or using a distribution service, be sure to also post to your website and social media platforms. That way, you will simultaneously improve your SEO, especially if the press release incorporates keywords.

Step #6: Share The Resulting Media Coverage

If all goes to plan, your perfectly crafted press release will result in lots of media coverage. Your story will be picked up by a variety of outlets resulting in plenty of shareable content.

Don’t miss out on this golden opportunity. Keep the buzz going by sharing any articles on your social media. From just one press release, you can end up with a treasure trove of valuable content. And you will also get some useful backlinks to your site from the media outlet’s website. Backlinks are one of the best ways to keep your content at the top of Google.

Are Press Releases Still Relevant?

The simple answer is yes. It’s a great way to build your brand image and authority. And it’s a useful tool for shaping public perception of your business. As part of a comprehensive marketing strategy, the humble press release still has an important role to play.

However, use it wisely. Make sure your press release is genuinely newsworthy. And for maximum impact, don’t overdo it. A weekly press release with boring company updates and non-news could tarnish your brand and harm your reputation.

Press Release Anatomy Summary

Here’s a quick summary of the essential steps involved in crafting an effective press release anatomy:

  • Make it newsworthy
  • Keep the format short – no more than 500 words, including boilerplate content.
  • Entice reporters in with a short, catchy headline, use AP styling
  • Craft a compelling opening paragraph that summarizes the critical information
  • Ensure the body and style is relevant to the audience
  • Time the distribution of the press release to achieve maximum exposure
  • Share any coverage on your social media platforms and website

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