How to Write a Press Release? [The Guide + Expert Comments]

1. PDF

Sending out press releases in PDF files was very popular a few years back. Although they look the same on each device, they are rather problematic – they’re heavy, sometimes difficult to copy information from, and journalists don’t really seem to like this form. Since many companies still issue releases in this format, it is treated somehow as a standard, but it’s not a smart move to get used to something that is just too problematic for readers.

Advantage:
  • It’s compatible with nearly every device
Disadvantages:
  • It’s heavy, and there’s no journalist who likes having their mailbox blocked (it’s pretty annoying, and it lowers your success rate)
  • It’s hard to copy. Even if a journalist doesn’t want to edit it too much, they still have to go through all the hassle of copying or rewriting. When you send a file that is hard to edit, you’re sending a clear message that you don’t respect their time (which is not what you want to achieve, right?)
  • It’s difficult to measure—you don’t know how many people actually have read it

2. Plain text

The next press release format to take into account is plain text. It’s definitely a safe choice, but it’s also extremely vanilla. The whole idea of a good press release is that it will be so interesting/innovative/worth sharing that journalists will want to write about it. If the release looks just like all the other emails they read that day, most likely it won’t be remembered.

Advantages:
  • Easy to copy and edit
  • It’s light and doesn’t block the mailbox, which definitely makes it more journalist-friendly
Disadvantages:
  • It looks boring and doesn’t encourage reading
  • There is a chance that it will look bad on some devices
  • Similarly to PDFs, it’s hard to find out who actually saw the press release

3. Interactive press release

It’s most likely the newest press release format on the market. Although journalists may be a little bit hesitant in the beginning, they are definitely going to remember it. This also happens to be the user-friendliest form—it’s easy to copy, easy to download, and difficult to forget. If you’re unfamiliar with this type of press release writing, check out these press release examples[6] and you’ll quickly understand their PR potential.

Advantages:
  • Easy to copy and edit thanks to a special button that lets you copy plain text
  • Looks good on every device
  • Interactive: it’s possible to add social media sharing buttons and drag-and-drop various elements
  • It’s possible to control each press release and see exactly who saw it thanks to the analytical panel
  • Easy download of all attachments with one click
  • Your readers will always have the most up-to-date version at their disposal (no more having to follow-up saying you forgot to add something important – or worse, that you made a mistake)
A press release made with Prowly’s Press Release Creator[7]
Disadvantages:
  • Some journalists may not be used to it yet which can be both an advantage and a disadvantage (they might be confused when seeing it for the first time, but they might also love it at the same time)

When writing a killer press release, keep in mind that times are changing and something that could ‘wow’ a journalist a few years back, won’t impress them today. Think about what will be a trend next year and apply it now. Remember—you snooze, you lose.

Step 4: Common mistakes when writing a press release

1) The story isn’t actually newsworthy

First things first. Is your story actually a story? Is it new or interesting? Will people outside your organization really care about it? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you might be onto something. If it’s not new, not interesting and you’re not sure if anyone will really care, it might be a good idea to come up with something else.

Reserve press releases only for the most timely and newsworthy announcements about your client or company. So often business leaders and PR pros get ‘release happy’ and mistakenly believe that if they’re not sending releases at a regular cadence, their media outreach is going stagnant. This simply isn’t the case.
– Robyn Ware, Principal, Robyn Ware PR
[8]

2) You’re beating around the bush

Nail the story in the first few sentences: get the facts out quickly and succinctly and the chances of a press release making it from an inbox to an editorial meeting will increase dramatically. Journalists are pushed for time more than ever before, so the importance of communicating the bones of the story in the first few lines of a press release is vital. Chances are, they’re not going to have time to read the whole thing, so the quicker you get to the point, the better.

It is 2020 and I still get exceedingly long press releases that resemble a book’s chapter. A bad book’s chapter with an excess of self-promoting adjectives. Anyone who works in media is always running against the clock with deadlines, so the best piece of advice I could give is to always remember to include the most newsworthy information at the very beginning of your press release. If you leave it to the very end, chances are that the journalist will not read that far, and a good story will be overlooked.
– Marcio Delgado, Journalist, Digital Consultant and Producer[9]

3) Press release quotes don’t come off as authentic

Whether it’s a young person talking about how happy they are to have secured an apprenticeship or a CEO analyzing the latest financial results, it’s a wise idea to make the people quoted in a press release sound real. For example, the said young person is unlikely to use words you’d need a dictionary to understand, so remember to have your story feel authentic. Just try to make sure they’re not ‘delighted’, even if they are. Here you can find more press release mistakes[10], in case you’re interested.

Step 5: Press release examples

Congratulations! By now, you should have all the necessary knowledge to write a good press release. If you need some more guidance, we have a few press release examples for you to draw inspiration from:

We hope this helps. Till the next time!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

References

  1. ^ write a winning press release (prowly.com)
  2. ^ Nahigian Strategies (nahigianstrategies.com)
  3. ^ Media Publicity Mentor (www.sandracoffeyvoiceover.com)
  4. ^ David Rudolph (www.linkedin.com)
  5. ^ at the right time (prowly.com)
  6. ^ check out these press release examples (prowly.com)
  7. ^ Press Release Creator (prowly.com)
  8. ^ Robyn Ware PR (www.linkedin.com)
  9. ^ Journalist, Digital Consultant and Producer (marciodelgado.com)
  10. ^ Here you can find more press release mistakes (prowly.com)

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