Press releases are used by brands to communicate news, grab attention, and generate publicity, but like most styles of writing, they have their own set of ‘rules’.
PR people are experts at knowing what you should and shouldn’t include in a news release and exactly how to write and format it in order to reap the rewards, but if you’re looking to have a go at it yourself, we’ve compiled a list of things you should never leave out.
But before we get started on our five must haves...are you happy for this news to be shared and published now? Or are you sending a release out before a major event? If you want to notify journalists of something notable that’s happening in the future, you might want to embargo your release for a certain date or time. Make it as clear as possible by writing it right at the top of the release, in capital letters and in bold if necessary. Something like “Date for release” or “Embargoed until” will do the job.
1. An attention-grabbing headline/title
It’s no secret that journalists are inundated with hundreds of emails every single day. To save your press release from drowning in their inboxes, never to see the light of day, make sure it has an attention-grabbing headline that you can also be used as the email subject if necessary.
It’s good practice to write like your article is on the front page because not only will it be more interesting for journalists scrolling through their inbox, but you’ll be saving them a job visualising what the story is going to look like too. Keep it short and sweet, and SEO-friendly, and you’ll be on to a winner.
2. Business website
Ten years ago, it wouldn’t have been such a ‘must’, but in the digital age we’re living in, it’s absolutely imperative that your company’s press releases include your website. Even if you’re not running a digital PR campaign specifically, by including anchor text links to your website, you’re a) showing journalists where they can go for more information about your business and b) increasing the likelihood of them publishing your article with one of those all-important backlinks to your site, which is going to improve your SEO ranking. You can read more about the impact of link building and earning here.
3. Company descriptor
Don’t assume that everyone knows your business and what you do. Even if you’re one of the biggest companies in your area and writing a release for your local media, you should always include some kind of company descriptor. For example, we’d say “Motive, a leading digital PR agency based in Nottingham”. This could also help your keyword rankings if you’re clever about it, so when people are searching for products and services similar to yours online, yours are more likely to pop up.
4. A quote
Include quotes in your press release, and make sure they can stand alone. If they were shared without the rest of your release, would they convey the most important elements of your news? Make sure they do because journalists will often pull quotes out of releases to support other articles and features.
People know you’re excited enough to issue a press release, so use the quote to focus on a strategic message, rather than sweeping, generic statements like “we’re really excited/pleased/happy about this.” It’s always best to name a relevant staff member, for example “Bob Smith, head of marketing said:” but if you’re on a tight deadline and struggling to get sign off from someone who’s happy to be named in the release, “a spokesperson” will do.
5. Great supporting images
Motive's Associate Director Sarah wrote this post about how important pictures are when pitching to media, and what exactly journalists are looking for in a good press shot. A good set of images can make a great pitch, press release or concept outstanding and will help put your brand in front of the right people. Also, people are likely to be turned off by reams and reams of sentences and paragraphs, so including a couple of images will help break up the text and allow journalists and readers to visualise the story.
If you’d like to talk to us about how we can help you communicate your company news, email us on email@example.com