How to Write a Press Release: A Complete Guide -2020

Too many companies create products or take part in something newsworthy but don’t get the media coverage they deserve. It’s difficult to get your brand out there in the digital age.

Even working diligently on a solid SEO platform[1] won’t always help you get the coverage you want. If you’re looking for brand awareness or coverage on a new product or service, creating and distributing a well-written media release is the way to go.

Media releases are simply press releases for the media. Media outlets get releases all of the time, and it’s their job to determine which of them they want to use in their content.

We’re going to give you some tips to make your release the one that gets chosen.

Writing a Successful Media Release

We’ll cover some of the ins and outs of press releases and, hopefully, give you a better understanding of why yours aren’t being used in media.

It can be tough because the competition is extremely tight[2]. Most top journalists receive dozens and dozens of pitches a day, while only having the time to write one or two. It’s important to keep your audience (the journalist) in mind when you’re writing a media press release.

Before we start talking about writing at all, though, we should discuss your goals.

Having Clear Goals and Expectations

There are several reasons to put out a press release, and each one has a slightly different goal associated with it. When something significant happens to your business, it might seem intuitive to just put out a press release about it.

It’s important to think past your intuition a little bit in this case.

Reasons You Might Put Out a Press Release

A press release is usually the go-to move when something big happens. You’re making changes or experiencing some success, so you want the public to know about it. Why wouldn’t you?

One huge subject of the press release distribution is a new product or service that your company is introducing. It’s important to make these things known to supplement any advertising or marketing pushes that you might be putting out.

Events are also good reasons to put out a press release. Events are a good way to engage with the people in your niche or community, and having media coverage is a surefire way to boost attendance.

You may also want to promote the fact that you or your company has received an award or honor of some kind. Making your company’s success known can have a real effect on public opinion and building your trust factors.

Understand Your Intention

Adding a high-level executive to your team is another example of something that could be considered newsworthy. You’ve got a new team member and you want the public to know.

But why? Is there something about this person that, if the public knew about it, it would add value to the company? Did they move over to your company from a well-known charity and you’re trying to bolster a more charitable image for your company?

It could also be that you want to show the public that you’re growing or taking things in a new direction. In any case, you should understand the specific reason that you think a press release is needed.

When you Know the Reason

Once you’ve narrowed down the topic and the reason you think it’s newsworthy, you can start looking for journalists that tend to cover those subjects. Additionally, you can look into media outlets that promote subjects to achieve the goals you have in mind.

For example, there are some sites and publications that write articles which promote brand awareness[3] and others that are better for pushing a product or service.

Pair your content and your intentions with a media outlet that fits well. When you’ve identified the outlet, start looking at journalists there who might think your pitch is worth covering.

We’ll discuss the process of pitching next.

Keeping the Journalist in Mind

Think about having to sift through upwards of fifty email pitches per day. Similarly to a hiring committee, the journalist learns how to easily identify potential coverage that would be interesting. In the same breath, they’re extremely discriminatory against pitches that are poorly formatted and don’t seem newsworthy.

First and foremost, you should focus on making your pitch seem as newsworthy as possible[4]. Don’t go overboard and use hyperbole or exaggerate, but make sure you come at this thing with the angle that is most interesting.

Your first battle in the quest for newsworthiness is the subject of your email. With that said, who do you think makes the news?

Reaching out to the Right People

You may have dreams of being covered by large media outlets or particular journalists[5] who are well-respected. If you have particular people or outlets in mind, though, it’s a safe bet that you aren’t getting covered by them.

Unless your product was created with specific people’s media coverage in mind, those people probably won’t want to cover your product. The media gets to decide what goes, and what goes is typically tied to their interests.

So, if you’re pitching to people who aren’t really interested in your niche or your product, you’re not going to get any media coverage. A common mistake that companies make is thinking only about themselves in the process of writing a media release.

It’s easy to use releases as a platform to tote your wonderful qualities, shining light on the strength of your product and the genius of its creator. Come on, now.

If you want coverage, think primarily about the journalist throughout the entire process. It doesn’t matter what the press release makes you look like, it matters that it looks good enough for the journalist to publish it as one of his works.

A Compelling Subject Line

Again, remember that these journalists are sifting through a million emails that they don’t want to read, waiting for the one or two that might actually be interesting.

From that frame of mind, emails that aren’t personalized and contain too many words are the first to go. Think about your own email inbox– aren’t you immediately able to tell which messages are totally impersonal?

Those emails, ninety-nine percent of the time, are pitches for you to sign on to something. Whether it’s an email list, a subscription, a product pitch, or something else, it’s a pitch.

In all honesty, a media release is a pitch too. We know that, and journalists know that. It’s no secret, and you shouldn’t treat it like one.

Personalized Subject Lines

Which pitches have you clicked on recently? Knowing full well that the email was a pitch, why did you click it? Probably because it pertained to you in some specific way.

In other words, it was personalized. Personalization is key here, and the main thing is to use the journalist’s name in the subject line. The last thing you want is to make it seem like you’ve sent the same email to a hundred people.

Even if the entire body text is personalized, odds are that the media won’t open it if the subject line isn’t. Use the name of the person you’re emailing and succinctly state the subject of your email.

A subject like “Hey Suzan, you might be interested in covering our new line,” is simple, to the point, and will grab at the reader to learn more.

Crafting the Release

The first thing to keep in mind is the typeface and size[6] of your text. There are a few formatting issues that have become a sort of universal. While it isn’t a hard and fast rule, using specific fonts and sizes for different parts of your email should improve your chances.

It isn’t like the recipient is going to look at your fonts and sizes, but people have grown accustomed to quality documents having these specifics. So, when the journalist sees your email, they’ll associate it with quality documents that they’ve read in the past.

Plus, these are considered to be the most readable choices. Make your headline size 14 Arial or Times New Roman. The subheader should be size 13, italicized, and the same font that you chose for the headline.

Finally, the body text should be size 12 and the same font you chose for the previous two.

Headlines

Headlines are going to be situated at the top of your email and will detail the most pertinent parts of your pitch. It should only be 60 to 80 characters long. That gives you one relatively long sentence or a couple of very succinct ones[7].

(To give you a better idea, the sentence before this one was 78 characters long)

Treat this as though you were the journalists themselves. As far as tone and style go, you’re going to make the headline sound like an actual article.

So, something like “Ravenhorn Bath Products Releases New Waterproof Speaker” would work. Your header should be succinct and to the point without being too bland or uninteresting.

You’ll also want to make sure that the headline contains all capital letters except on conjunctions and determiners.

Subheaders or Sluglines

Subheaders often called sluglines in this context, are roughly 20 words and should describe the article in slightly more descriptive terms than the header.

If you hook a journalist with your subject line and headline, your slugline will be the final piece before they actually read through the content of the press release.

One way to think of this line is as a method of showing the journalist why the release could apply to people beyond the media. In other words, why is it important?

If your header is “Ravenhorn Bath Products Releases New Waterproof Speaker,” your slugline might go something like “Global study shows that people fear being shocked by their speakers when bathing. Ravenhorn Bath seeks to amend that with their new speaker”.

This entire slugline is going to be italicized in the release. Additionally, it’s going to be capitalized normally. The only difference in punctuation is going to be the absence of a period at the end of the line.

It will be situated just below your header, and just above your body text.

Your Body Text

The first paragraph of your body text really just serves to flesh out the bases of the release. The first couple of sentences should be dedicated to identifying the location of the release (usually your business address) and the date that it is being released.

That information will be located at the top and separated from the rest of the introductory paragraph with a dash. You’ll want to use an em dash as well. Word processors typically insert em dashes when you press the dash button on your keyboard twice then hit space.

Following that, you’re going to have to dig back into your elementary school writing days. You’ll be laying out the who, what, when, where, and how of the media release.

Of course, you don’t have to write it like a school paper, just make sure you touch on all of those elements in the first paragraph. Do it quickly, too. You should aim to touch on all of those questions in two, maybe three sentences.

After the first paragraph, you’re tasked with creating a narrative. The whole body of your release shouldn’t end up being more than 300 words and should contain three or four paragraphs.

The key here is to splice out key elements in the formation of your newsworthy event and situate them in an order that makes a readable, enjoyable story. Make sure to cover each important point and let a person or two read it over before it goes out.

When you get too close to a project you often make mistakes you don’t recognize.

Sound Like a Tall Order?

Writing a media release involves a lot of work. Not only do you need to use your command of the English language, but you have to know things like formatting and placement, in addition to a thing or two about specific journalists.

Our site offers a press release service[8] that takes the task of crafting and distributing a press release off of your hands. You can complete your press releases hassle-free for less than in-house and get access to over 440 thousand outlets.

If you’re interested in working with professionals to write your media release, contact us[9] for more information.

References

  1. ^ solid SEO platform (brandlume.com)
  2. ^ competition is extremely tight (brandlume.com)
  3. ^ promote brand awareness (brandlume.com)
  4. ^ newsworthy as possible (www.mediacollege.com)
  5. ^ or particular journalists (www.forbes.com)
  6. ^ typeface and size (purdueglobalwritingcenter.wordpress.com)
  7. ^ very succinct ones (thewritepractice.com)
  8. ^ press release service (brandlume.com)
  9. ^ contact us (brandlume.com)

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