Although public relations has changed since the advent of social media, one thing has remained the same—the value of a good press release.
Press releases are more than simple announcements about rebranding and new hires. They’re also opportunities for your company’s voice to shine through. In short, their marketing strategies are well worth the investment.
But how do you know if your press release is as effective as it could be?
Good question. By following 7 press release best practices, you’ll have news outlets turning their heads with every press release distribution.
What Makes a Good Press Release? 7 Best Practices Anybody who’s spent time in public relations knows press releases don’t follow a one-size-fits-all model when it comes to detail. New partnership press releases focus on aligning both companies’ values; charitable initiative releases center on a specific event.
That said, a successful press release follows, at least to some degree, these best practices when it comes to overall press release format and structure:1
#1 Make the Most of The Press Release Structure Whether you’re announcing a merger or a prestigious new hire, all types of press releases boil down to the same essential structure:
Date and location
Boilerplate or the "about us" section
Be sure that when you’re crafting your press release, you’re not just checking off boxes of necessary sections. Instead, optimize the most important components to create an attention-grabbing and informative piece.
Start With an Eye-Catching Header A press release headline should grab your target audience’s attention and entice readers to read on. The best headlines are compelling and engaging. They tell readers just enough to spark curiosity without divulging all of the important information. Keeping headlines to under 100 characters while packing an informative punch is the best way to signal to prospective readers that “the best is yet to come.”
Make Your Summary Quick and To-the-Point Your press release summary should be a tiny bit of what’s to come, no more than one or two short sentences. To understand how short and sweet this summary should be, take inspiration from the New York Times best seller’s list summary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone:
“A boy finds his fortune at witchcraft school.”2
That’s it. No mention of trolls in dungeons, magical destinies, or haunted forests. Is there more to the story? Absolutely. Readers will find the most important details in the rest of the press release.
Be Efficient With Your Body Section The perfect press release stems from the idea that most people aren’t going to read the entire press release. That’s why the body section follows an “inverted pyramid” structure, a format in which they present the most important information early.
Get to the point quickly in your body section by heeding the following tips:
Don’t leave the reader guessing. If your press release announces a new hire, for instance, clearly state their name, position, background, and what they’ll bring to the company.
Answer the “Five Ws” (the who, what, where, when, and why) in the first paragraph.
Save the extra details for a company newsletter or blog post. Boil down your announcement to the key pieces and the most captivating details that will make readers want to learn more.
Finish With a Conclusion That Entices Readers to Learn More A press release is an invitation to have more conversations about your big news. Finishing strong can encourage your reader to pick up the phone to start that conversation. Here are a few strategies to implement for how to end a press release:
Provide less pressing, more exciting, details about a project’s background. Or, if you’re announcing a new partnership, show your excitement by projecting your company’s new direction.
Increase interest by leaving the door open to further inquiry. Of course, you want to wrap up your press release. But you also want to leave room for a future announcement.
Add a boilerplate or “About Us” section. Not only will this section let audiences know about your company’s background and culture, but it’ll also provide valuable contact information.
#2 A Short Press Release Is An Effective Press Release Like a dense Russian novel, long press releases can sometimes turn off readers before they even read the first sentence.
A standard press release should be between 300-500 words.
But sometimes, the trouble with maintaining a reader’s attention isn’t a matter of content, but a matter of psychology: hefty chunks of text have been shown to intimidate readers.
Let’s put it this way: when writing a great press release, it’s better to be more Hemingway and less Faulkner.
Break up long paragraphs into smaller units to aid readability. You should also make use of white space so that the most important sections of your content are easily caught by skimming eyes.
#3 Master Press-Release-Speak A press release isn’t like an editorial in a newspaper or an academic paper. It has its own voice and style. Thankfully, that language is pretty simple to master if you keep in mind the following advice:
Write in everyday language – Skip the jargon and the academic speech. Press releases are meant to entice and inform, not confuse. Save the technical talk for industry conferences.
Write in short, yet informative sentences – Overly-long press releases plagued with confounding run-on sentences can be difficult to understand and confuse readers, leading to many potential missed opportunities. Translation? Keep readers reading with short, to-the-point sentences.
Keep your sentences action-packed with action verbs – Which sentence has more power and punch?
Malachite LLC has acquired Dr. June P. Gemmist as their new CFO
Dr. June P. Gemmist joins the Malachite LLC team as CFO.
Action verbs drive a sentence, passive verbs muddle meanings and slow the flow.
#4 Know How to Maximize Quotes Just because you need to get to the point quickly doesn’t mean your press release should sound cold and mechanical. Rather, the announcement should be warm and inviting.
The trick is to present information succinctly while adding a human touch. In other words, your press release should include quotes.
However, this doesn’t mean your press release should just quote anybody. The best press releases match the quote with the specific content.
For instance, if your press release deals with a rebranding, stakeholders will want to see a quote from a high-level executive—not a third party.
Consider these additional tips when including quotes:3
Paint a picture with your quotes. To add the most personal touch to your press release, incorporate quotes that use metaphor or other figurative language.
Quotes should be no longer than two sentences (one is preferable). Readers want “sound bites,” not a full speech.
Humanize your quotes. If your quotes sound computer-generated, what’s the point? Personalize your digital press release by being less promotional and more focused on the user experience.
#5 Understand the Power of Images Although cliche, it’s often true: a picture’s worth a thousand words. This is especially true when it comes to press releases.
However, including visuals doesn’t mean ending your text with a Mondrian painting just because you like abstract art. Rather, the best visuals provide further insight into what the text is saying.
For instance, if your announcement deals with a rebranding, an infographic showing the expected revenue increase will do wonders. Similarly, a photo of your product can take your new product press release to the next level.
#6 Make the Call-To-Action Clear Making your CTA clear is especially important if you’re announcing a new product or feature. It’s not enough to have media members and consumers simply read about your product—you want them to try it.
This is where a clear, direct CTA works its magic.
When writing effective CTAs, it’s best to think of the following:
Use language and action words that create urgency – For instance, a CTA that says “sign up now” is more impactful because it pairs an action verb with a sense of immediacy.
Don’t sound too eager – Yes, you want customers to take the next step toward purchasing your product or signing up for your charity event, but you don’t want to overdo it. State your CTA only once.
#7 Use a Press Release Distribution Service To reach the widest possible target audience, it’s often better to distribute your press release with a newswire distribution service than to try and spread your message alone.
This is because newswire services usually have more access to journalists and media contact members.
But this doesn’t mean you should just use any newswire service. If you want the best results, let us be your corporate storyteller.
By connecting your press coverage to the world better than any other press release service in the industry, ACCESSWIRE helps you distribute your digital press release wider than you ever thought possible.
Best Practices Start With ACCESSWIRE A press release is often the place to make a good first impression regarding a new hire or product launch. Make the best impression possible by following the above best practices.
But sometimes simply writing a compelling press release headline isn’t enough. That’s where we come in.
Looking for other tips, such as the best time to send a press release and the difference between a media alert vs. a press release? We’re here to help. By focusing on connection, communication, and collaboration, ACCESSWIRE is committed to helping you distribute your press release to the widest audience using flat-fee pricing.
Your press release already has high standards. Let ACCESSWIRE take them even higher.