There’s a common misconception that press releases are no longer relevant in our increasingly digital world. And while it’s true that a lackluster press release can be a waste of time, the reality is that press releases are still a necessary component of many successful communications strategies.
What’s the Purpose of a Press Release?
Press releases are an excellent way for brands to communicate substantive news to their target audiences. They should be used sparingly for important updates, including but not limited to major new hires, mergers and acquisitions, financial earnings reports and significant milestones or anniversaries.
A press release can be leveraged to achieve different PR outcomes. When a company sends one out to their media contacts, reporters might reference the release in an article or even write an entire story about the announcement. But savvy media relations pros know not to get their hopes up too much. Sending out a press release that results in a major story is fairly uncommon, since most journalists assume the same release was sent to several competitors.
Thankfully, there are more attainable ways to achieve success with a press release. A local media outlet might include your release in a dedicated section for business briefs, which could be a great opportunity if your company has a loyal hometown audience.
Another avenue to explore is paying to host your press release on a website like Business Wire or PR Newswire. Depending on the length and assets of the release (photos, videos), you can expect to pay between $1,000-$2,000. In some cases, the investment is worthwhile—using these websites can improve your SEO ranking in addition to distributing the release to a number of outlets simultaneously.
How to Write an Effective Press Release
Headline and Subheader
A great press release begins with an attention-grabbing headline and a subhead that provides more information without being repetitive.
Next comes the opening sentence, which should cover the 5Ws and an H (who, what, when, where, why, and how). Reporters use the 5Ws and an H as a guideline for including relevant information in an article. PR professionals should do the same in press releases to make sure that if reporters choose to pick up the story, they have easy access to all the necessary details.
The first paragraph after the opening sentence gives the next most essential information, and then any additional details should follow in subsequent paragraphs.
The quote is typically the last item before the concluding sentence. Quotes are an essential component of a press release, but many organizations make the mistake of including quotes that don’t grab readers’ attention.
Avoid generic quotes with simple reactions to the news being shared. (Often, these quotes start with phrases like, “We’re so thrilled. . .” or “We’re so grateful. . .”) Instead, use quotes from relevant sources, like the CEO or company president, that meaningfully and authentically demonstrate what the news means to the organization.
Press Releases that Make an Impact
Since most journalists still follow AP Stylebook guidelines, your press release should, too. Don’t forget that the tone of your writing also matters. Press releases don’t have to be stuffy and boring—some of the best ones have a healthy balance of formality and personality.
A press release is an effective tactic for garnering attention when you have a major announcement. But once you start the news machine, you need a plan to keep it moving. A company is only as good as its last media hit, and in today’s rapid news cycle, the power of each hit fades quickly.
If you need help crafting effective press releases and integrating them into a comprehensive communications strategy, reach out to me today!