Press release – how to write it to spark the interest of journalists and readers? Author Agata Piechota Read bio The road to journalists’ hearts isn’t easy. If you have already sent press releases to media representatives, then you know it well. Such a press release will answer potential questions about how our company functions. But how do you make a press release related to your company stand out in a multitude of other messages that land in journalists’ inboxes? And how can we make sure it will be published? We have a handful of tips for you. Even if you share an interesting news story across your social media platforms about releasing a new product or starting a fresh collaboration, it doesn’t mean that the media will automatically get hooked on it. A journalist day and night also has 24 hours, so it’s hard to expect that he or she will be up to speed with the events of all brands. To make information about your company appear online, you should make sure to deliver it to the right person. A well-thought-out press release can help you grab the journalists’ attention and dig deeper into a subject that’s important from the perspective of your business. We have prepared a dose of practical knowledge that will help you acquire valuable publications. A press release, i.e., a point of contact for your brand and the media A press release is every news that your company sends to journalists. It doesn’t matter what subject it is, it should be written in simple language and be based on facts. A short text can be completed with a comment in the form of a quote, a graphic, or video material. Any form of advertising your product or service should be avoided to not lose the attention and trust of the recipient. Each day, there’s a plethora of similar messages arriving in the inbox of an editorial. To spark a sincere interest, you should personalize the message and keep the data unique. If a press release is deemed interesting, there’s a good chance that it will be printed in the paper or published on the Internet. Sometimes, the text will be published in its entirety, and other times, only its essence will see the light of day. Sending a press release is an activity related to digital PR. In Elephate, we often get in touch with journalists when we promote a campaign conducted for one of our clients. Carefully prepared press releases effectively grab attention, helping to build a positive image of a brand. They are also part of a content marketing strategy. Why is it (still) important to send press releases? Each mention of your brand increases its recognition. Through press releases, you can share your values and knowledge while building the image of an expert in the industry. You also gain trust and create positive associations with your brand among potential clients. If there’s a link to your website in the press release, there’s a good chance that the reader will visit it and get familiar with the offer. As a result, your domain’s authority will rise, and it will start appearing in search results. Obtaining a valuable publication gets more difficult every year. If your message to a journalist features a weak title or is unrelated to the subject that the recipient is dealing with, you may not even receive a decline message. The high chance of making a mistake in building relations with the media results in some people resigning from sending messages to the press and limiting themselves only to information on their own websites and social media. However, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t learn the best practices when it comes to contacting journalists. What information can you pass to the media? Each brand undertakes activities that are worth publicizing. All it takes is making the numerical data applicable to the bigger picture and creating a text that is useful for both editorial and the target audience. An interesting piece refers to a reality close to the audience. It can refer to current social problems, events, or the newest trends. There can be different topics to a press release: introducing a new product or service; adjusting the offer to clients’ needs; rebranding; starting a cooperation with a new brand, organization, or influencer; merging of the company or its takeover; new company headquarters or office; anniversary of starting the operations; results of a conducted research; winning an industry-related prize; organizing an event; organizowane wydarzenie; participating in expos or conferences. Not all of these topics can interest representatives of general media, local portals, or industry websites. Instead of working with a single contact database, it’s better to handpick the recipients of each press release. If you contact a certain journalist and refer to his or her interests directly, there’s a chance that your press release will become an inspiration for the creation of much more detailed material. How to write a press release that grabs the attention? A proper selection of a press release topic is half of its success. It should be attractive not only to the owner of the company but, most importantly, to the reader. Before you start writing, try to look at your data through the eyes of a journalist or the readers. You can also save time by contacting the editorial office even before sending the material. Ask if a certain topic is interesting for them. The text’s credibility and being up-to-date are also important. Each time you mention a number, include a source, so it will be easier to verify the information. Make sure that the text is neutral and abandon evaluative wording. Stick to the facts and let the readers have their own opinion. But you can make the text easier to read by using simple, figurative language and clear examples. Make the sentences short and concise, while keeping the press release length no longer than one A4 page. Almost equally significant as the content is the form of the press release. Let’s find out how to write an exciting press release that attracts the reader right from the start. Pay attention to a clear structure A press release is worth writing with the reversed pyramid rule in mind. The most essential facts should be located at the beginning of the text, with less significant details following. After reading the first paragraph, the reader should already possess general knowledge about the subject. The best scenario is when the lead answers the fundamental questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how according to the 5W1H method. However, make sure to leave some details out of it to make the reader eager to read more. In most cases, the title decides whether people will decide to continue reading. On the contrary to lead, it doesn’t have to be all informative. It can feature original wordplay or an intriguing question that could successfully attract readers. The content in the body should be logically connected. Let each of the 3- to 4-sentence paragraphs touch on different aspects. To make the navigation easier, you can introduce headings or bold the most important fragments. Try to avoid overly sophisticated language and industry terminology. Each jargon element should be explained in a way that every reader can understand it. An interesting addition could be a statement from the brand’s representative or a specialist in a certain field. If a quote brings a new perspective and explains any doubts that may arise, even better. If it’s authentic, the media will certainly use it. 2. Make journalists’ lives easier To each press release, you should add practical information that will make the journalists’ work easier. Place the date in a corner at the top, validating the freshness of the text. At the bottom, place a short paragraph about your brand. Briefly explain its history and describe what it deals with. And don’t forget to add the anchor to your website. You should also remember to add the contact information of a person who could answer all journalists’ questions. Under the press release, you should include the signature of a person from your company or an agency that represents you in PR activities. It’s important that the person included is always available and for that person to know more about the subject that the press release unveils. If journalists are interested in the subject, you have to take into consideration the fact that they may want to contact you before the publication to confirm the freshness of the information or to ask for additional details. 3. Adjust the text to the medium You can tell the same story in different ways. Instead of mass mailing the same press release, prepare a few different versions of the text, created with different media in mind. For each of the press releases, find a unique aspect that will become the core of the text and an excuse for presenting the important issues from your brand’s point of view. If you work in the developer industry, send it to local news websites that deal with the real needs of the community and leave the industry details for portals committed to real estate. Avoid informing everyone of everything. In a case where a journalist doesn’t seem interested, don’t spam him or her with more emails. Instead, ask politely about the cause of such a situation. It may turn out that you sent the press release just after the end of an editorial board meeting, where a decision on upcoming materials had already been made. Sometimes, it’s also about the lack of adjustment of the text to the recipient’s needs. Many journalists won’t sign on to already prepared material. Instead of receiving a text that was already published elsewhere, they would rather receive a handful of the most important data a couple of days earlier to prepare unique content with it. Asking the journalist about his field of expertise and interests can show that you’re open to his needs. 4. Observe the results Stay up-to-date with who decided to publish the press release. You can do it manually by searching for mentions in Google by typing in the name of the release or its fragments. Before a subpage is indexed, some time has to pass, and you won’t be able to act instantly. A publication may include unintentional errors or unfortunate generalizations. Sometimes, even a link to your website or a source of information won’t be there. In this case, it’s worth asking the journalist about including them in order for you to have equal benefits. A professional tool like Newspoint allows you to act quickly. All you have to do is set appropriate keywords related to the project and follow the mentions in real-time. You can also see the estimated reach and value of the publication in certain mediums, which is a valuable hint for planning more future releases Press release structure: straight to the point How to write a press release that meets the assumptions? There are a few proven methods that can be applied to any subject. Before we proceed, let’s focus on the structure itself. Title The title is the most important fragment of most texts published on the Internet. It’s what decides whether the journalist will read the whole press release. That’s why we should make sure that the title grabs the attention of a potential audience. We know that a title that’s catchy is really tempting, but let’s not overdo it. Instead, it’s worth specifying the most interesting details that our text covers. The title should explain what the text will be about in 1 or 2 sentences. Adding concrete information like numbers can attract readers’ attention and spark interest. The title should be treated as part of the whole text: specific and precise, but intriguing at the same time. We should, however, avoid too long sentences and unnecessary fillers. One glimpse of an eye should be enough to make the reader interested in reading the rest of the release. Lead Right after the title, we can find the lead, or, in other words, the first paragraph. Its purpose is to make the reader eager to read the entire text. In the beginning, you should include the most essential information. It might happen that only this part of the press release will be published. That’s why it’s critical for it to be the core of the text. Similar to what we mentioned before, the most important and interesting data should be included to make journalists, and in effect, the recipients, read our press release. Lead is a summary of the entire text and should answer the what, who, where, when, and why questions. These questions are really important, and we’ll come back to them in a moment. Body When it comes to volume, the body is the largest part of the press release. The main part of the text gives the writer quite a lot of freedom, but we should also include specific information. Information that was mentioned in the title and lead should be obligatorily placed in the body, but this time with a bigger picture in mind. In the body, we can allow ourselves to introduce potential results and additional data (expert quotes are often sought after). In the body, we also include the rest of the information that may interest the reader. In the case of longer press releases, it’s worth ending the body with a smart conclusion. Publication date and contact information Press releases can also feature a date with the day that we send them and (by default) the day it’s published. It’s sort of like an “expiration date,” but it doesn’t apply to texts that are “timeless.” Some information may need to be published before a certain deadline, that’s why we should provide a specific date. Let’s not forget about providing contact information to someone on our side. Journalists will then know who’s responsible for providing information about the brand and who they should contact. All this information is listed either at the beginning of the press release or at the end. Remember that first impression matters If a press release features linguistic or substantive errors, most journalists will discard it right away. Before sending the file, you should pay attention to even the smallest details. The text should be properly formulated before publishing. The recipient has to be able to edit the contents. He or she may want to change the title or use a fragment of the text in order to distinguish themselves from other media that received the same press release. Instead of .pdf format, send it in editable .doc, and include potential images and infographics as attachments. The alternative to sending traditional emails is reaching out to journalists on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. To make a good impression, it’s worth delivering the release in interactive form. You can create interesting materials with the help of the Prowly tool. All you have to do is select one of the templates and personalize it according to the style of your company. If you share a press release in the form of a subpage, you can freely edit it if you spot any errors and add images or anchors to various materials. A modern office will certainly influence the positive response to your brand. A successful press release is… As you can see, preparing even a short text that is a press release has its own rules. Let’s try to summarize all the things that we have learned so far. What traits should a perfect press release have? It has to be attractive The text should instantly grab the reader’s attention. It should be filled with useful information served in a cohesive manner. Let’s write only about what’s important, specifying the original traits of the product or essential data about the event that the text is about. A huge role is also played by the layout of the press release. Short paragraphs will work much better than a long wall of text. It has to be concise and concrete If the text is concise and concrete, it will not only be easier to read but also more practical. Journalists expect news. Those whom we contact may receive tens or hundreds of such texts every day. That’s why we should respect their time, and that also increases the chances for publication. A reasonable limit when it comes to the length of a press release is no more than 300 words (one page). It has to be personalized A press release should be adjusted to the medium in which we want it to be published. We can do that by specifying the information that the press release and the target audience have in common. After all, readers of business media have different needs than readers of regional news portals. We should remember that the author has to be neutral: information has to be edited in the third person (don’t use forms like “we,” “ours,” etc.). Otherwise, it may suggest self-promotion. It has to be ready for publication A press release that arrives in journalists’ inboxes should be ready for publication. Not only in terms of the already mentioned aspects like being attractive and adjusted for the target group, but it also has to be linguistically correct, without mistakes and unclear parts. Editorials should receive a text ready to be published online or in the press. What’s worth remembering is the fact that press releases are not part of intellectual property, therefore, they can be copied in the same form as we have sent them. It has to be properly formatted The last aspect may be a little prosaic, but it’s easy to miss. We should remember that the information should be sent in a proper format. A popular method of saving it as a file is by using one of the common extensions (like .rtf or .pdf) and attaching it to the email. If we want to send images and videos as well, they too should be attached to the email. The End A press release is a basic form of contact with the media that can make your brand more recognizable. In order for our press release to break through hundreds of other emails, we have to make sure that it offers more than just interesting content in a good format. A relationship with a journalist is equally important. Having his or her interests and preferences in mind, you’ll find delivering the text much easier, and eventually, it will be published online or in the press. When you get your first mention, the rest will come much sooner, and many other benefits will follow.