Press releases. 🤔
Do you know how to write them? Do you know what a good press release can do for your brand? For your clients’ brands?
If you’re blanking right now, you’re in the right place.
In today’s rapid-fire, information-overloaded world, it’s hard to conjure up buzz around a business – unless you create it yourself. 🎨
Enter the humble press release (also called a “news release” or a “PR”). With the right press release template, you’ll have a winning formula to grab attention, control the story you’re trying to share, turn heads, and build that coveted buzz that’s so hard to muster these days.
And, if you write press releases as a service for other businesses, you could potentially make a good chunk of change. 💰
In this guide, we’ll discuss all of the above:
- The definition of a press release and why you should write them
- The ROI of providing press release writing as a service
- How to write a press release, with a press release template to help you with formatting
- The 5 basic questions every news release should answer
- Press release examples and types
What Is a Press Release? Why Should You Write Them?
I talk about press releases, their value, plus how to write them and get paid in this video:
“Press release” sounds a little old-fashioned, right?
It conjures the image of an old-timey newspaper office and a journalist with a vintage typewriter tapping out a news release. (They might be wearing a derby hat, smoking a cigar, or have a pencil tucked behind their ear, too.)
But that couldn’t be further from the modern reality.
A press release is a written statement, announcement, or news story released by the brand or organization it’s about. (Literally, you’re “releasing” news or information to not just the “press,” but the news media in all its forms and the world at large.)
Ultimately, the goal is for your PR to be picked up by a news outlet or PR distributor like PR Newswire, PR Web, Business Wire, etc.
Once it’s picked up, you want influential people to see your press release and spread the word, whether that’s a journalist writing a news story, a blogger writing a blog post, or someone sharing the content of your PR on social media.
Press releases also stand on their own in terms of content – they live online indefinitely on distribution sites like PR Newswire, where your audience can easily find and read them. Sometimes, press releases even get indexed by Google (however, relying on syndicated content to drive search traffic and backlinks is NOT a good strategy – more on that below).
So, now that we fully understand what press releases are and why they’re valuable… why should YOU write them, whether you’re an entrepreneur, run an online writing business, or write content for clients?
Want to get the exact template, over-the-shoulder-video, and tutorial on how to write press releases — from me? Get inside the press release writing workshop I teach for just $27.
Why Should You Write Press Releases?
Press releases are super-valuable pieces of content (read: they’re money-makers 🤑) for a few reasons:
- Many people – including copywriters! – don’t know how to write them, let alone write them effectively (i.e., your PR gets picked up and garners attention from the right people). If you or your team nails this skill, you’ll be in demand.
- Press releases are great tools for building buzz and grabbing attention. In many industries, they’re the standard for brands that want to control the narrative when announcing news, events, new products, business deals, etc.
- If your PR contains truly newsworthy information presented well, it WILL get picked up and shared, which equates to immediate ROI for you or your client.
When NOT to Write Press Releases
On the flip side, do NOT write press releases for SEO or backlink purposes. Syndicated press release distribution will not help you in terms of link juice, traffic from search, or anything related.
A few years ago, I talked to Tim Grice, a search marketing expert and CEO, who wrote a great Moz article about this very topic that’s still utterly relevant. This is what he had to say:
“Online PR done right is not a bad idea, syndicating crap stories around the web for a handful of links on press wires is a terrible SEO strategy; no relevance, no authority, no trust.”
What he saw from his experience was businesses investing in channels like Business Wire and PR Newswire for the express purpose of link-building. As he said, they were “firing out boring stories that got absolutely no pick up and the online links created were from low value directories.”
In 10 years of running a content agency, I saw the proof in the pudding, too. Press releases do very little, if nothing, for SEO.
Instead, what press releases actually accomplish is getting your brand pushed to a wider audience IF you share stories that are legitimately newsworthy. Journalists will take note, and you might get mentions on major networks, which will result in non-SEO-driven traffic and leads coming your way. 🏆
The ROI of Providing Press Release Writing as a Service
Back when I ran that aforementioned content agency full-time (learn how/why I sold that biz), we wrote over 3,000 press releases in 10 years for clients. We sold each one for $199. If you do the math, that’s nearly $600,000 in sales from PRs alone!
BUT – we had to have training and guidelines in place for our writers so they could produce amazing press releases consistently.
Here’s how we did it:
After studying PR Newswire guidelines (the main network our clients used to release news), I wrote my own internal guidelines. We trained people with journalism and communication majors in college on how to become online press release writers — and it worked!
Needless to say, this could be a valuable addition to the services you provide in your own writing company. You just need to become an expert on press release writing so you can share your knowledge with your team and create magic for your clients.
With all that in mind, let’s get into the nitty-gritty: how to write press releases, including press release templates and examples. ✅
Prefer to learn by watching a video? Get inside my Press Release Writing Workshop. You’ll learn my exact rules and standards for creating PRs and tools to help speed up the process. You’ll also get a downloadable press release template with examples. Enroll in this workshop here.
Prefer to learn with templates and step-by-step instructions? Get inside my Press Release Writing Workshop. You’ll learn my exact rules and standards for creating PRs and tools to speed up the process. You’ll also get a downloadable press release template with examples. Enroll here.
Press Release Template: How to Write & Format a Press Release
Ready to learn how to write a press release? I’ve got all the details, including a press release template for your perusal. 💯
First, let’s cover the general information every press release should include. It can be boiled down to five basic questions.
What 5 Basic Questions Should a News Release Answer?
Every single press release needs these elements:
- Does it have a newsworthy, clear headline?
- Does it include the location of the news release and the time/date of release?
- Does it have up to 650 words of content?
- Does it include the contact information of the press release author?
- Optional: Does it include a short promo video for the news release?
Let’s break them down using a press release example from my own archives to illustrate.
1. Does It Have a Newsworthy, Clear Headline?
Forget clickbait. For your PR headline, you always want to prioritize clear over clever.
That doesn’t mean you won’t draw attention. As long as your press release is actually newsworthy, your headline will naturally be an extension of that.
If you struggle to come up with a headline for a news release, consider it a red flag that the information you want to share isn’t newsworthy enough to warrant a formal release. 🚩
(In my content business, we actually had to turn away clients who wanted press releases written because their information just wasn’t newsworthy!)
Using my example, here’s what a clear, newsworthy headline looks like:
It goes without saying, but strong online writing skills will come in clutch for writing your press release headline.
2. Does It Include the Location of the News Release and the Time/Date of Release?
This is pretty straightforward. Every news release must include location and time/date information.
Where is your news coming from? This will look different depending on the type of news you’re sharing. For example, if you’re sharing a brand merger, you might include the location of where the deal was inked. If you’re sharing an event, you should include the location of that event, etc.
Here’s our press release example with the location and time/date specified. Note that since my business was centered in Austin, TX, that translated to the location for announcing the release of my book:
Here’s an additional example from another PR centered on an event. Note that the location included is Las Vegas, which is where the event in question occurred:
Source: PR Newswire
3. Does It Have Up to 650 Words of Content?
Next up, let’s talk about the content of your press release.
You need up to 650 words of content clearly stating what the press release is all about. This amounts to about 6-7 paragraphs:
- Your first paragraph should be attention-grabbing and interesting. Announce your news while telling the reader why they should care. Add in some context for people unfamiliar with your topic.
- The following paragraphs should detail the “who,” “what,” “when,” and “where” of your news. Why is it important? Who is involved? Ensure you keep a good flow throughout – you want this to be easy to read, interesting, and engaging.
- Including direct quotes from the subject(s) of the press release is a great idea and standard practice. In my PR example, the site even grabbed my quote to display as a larger pull quote!
- Your last paragraph should be a short “about” section, where you share information about the company or brand in question and what it does. This is also a great place to plug in a site link. In our press release example, the last paragraph is about my business at the time, Express Writers, with a link to our Content Shop at the very end.
- Generally, keep your entire press release informational, NOT salesy. You are not trying to sell, rather, you’re sharing newsworthy information people should know about.
I said it once already, but let me hammer it home: Good writing skills are vital for creating an effective press release. Ideally, someone with experience in journalism or communication should helm this task, but a regular-old copywriter also can be trained to write amazing press releases.
If you or your team needs a brush-up on how to write for the web with flair, I have a course for that. 👍 Inside Unlearn Essay Writing, you’ll learn exactly how to nix heavy essay-style writing in favor of nimble online writing that sings. Enroll today for this 1-week course.
4. Does Your Press Release Template Include Contact Information?
Don’t forget to include a way to contact the press release author (i.e., the owner, author, salesperson, stakeholder, etc., for the company, product, book, event, what-have-you).
This can be through the company if you’d prefer, which is what I included in my press release.
5. Optional: Does It Include a Short Promo Video for the News Release?
This element is optional but recommended: a short promo video that clearly talks about the product, service, or offering that is featured in your news release.
It doesn’t have to be an elaborate production, either. 1-2 minutes long is perfectly okay, and the video can be as simple as you talking to the camera about the product (and demo-ing, if relevant).
In this video-forward age, including a short video that gives a compelling visual of your news is a no-brainer. A few examples:
- If you wrote a book, talking about it in a short promo video helps your audience put a face to a name and supports your expertise on the topic. I did this in my PR for So You Think You Can Write? It was super simple and short, but effective.
- If the PR is about a product release, a video can show off the product in ways you can’t capture with text.
- If the PR is about an upcoming event, a video could show off the event location and hype up the people/organizations involved.
The key with a promo video is to get creative and enhance your press release. There’s a lot you can do/show in a video that you can’t get across in writing, so use this to your advantage if you opt to create one.
Press Release Template: How to Format Your PR
Figuring out the content for your press release is great, but what about the proper press release format?
When you submit to distribution sites like PR Newswire and others, you want your press release to look professional on top of including all the necessary components.
Here’s a general press release template for how your PR should be formatted. (Make sure you remove the brackets when inserting your own information. Key formatting areas are highlighted in red, but your finished PR should be all in standard black text.)
Want a downloadable press release template with examples, plus an hour-long session with me teaching you how to write them? Enroll in my Press Release Writing Workshop for just $27.
6 Press Release Examples & Types
Beyond press release templates, checking out some press release examples is really helpful for figuring out what your own PR should contain, as well as what it should look like.
Here are some super-common press release types you’ll find in most industries, with real examples.
1. Event Announcements
Press releases are a great way to announce a big event you want to spread awareness about and hype up. The following press release announces the “Strength of a Woman Festival & Summit.”
Source: PR Newswire
2. New Product Launches (Including Book Launches)
Launching a new product deserves all the fanfare a PR can drum up. The press release we talked about earlier is a good example of a book launch PR, which is somewhat similar to a product launch.
The following press release is about the launch of a new sandwich at Subway:
Source: PR Newswire
3. Brand Mergers and Acquisitions
Big business deals, including brand mergers and acquisitions, are fodder for press releases. Here’s an example from Arctic Glacier, which acquired the company North Star Ice.
Source: Business Wire
For smaller brands, this type of press release can translate to new partnerships, collaborations, or smaller-scale business deals that have a big impact on their industry or community.
4. Survey/Study/Research Press Releases
Many companies use press releases to announce new, important research they have published in reports, studies, and surveys. This McAfee PR announcing their “Connected Family Study” is a great example:
Source: Business Wire
5. Award Announcements
Earning recognition, awards, or accolades merits a press release announcing how awesome your brand is (obviously). 😎 Here’s a good example:
6. High-Level Brand Hiring & Promotion Announcements
When a high-power company hires or promotes a high-power exec, that’s also press-release-worthy news. (Generally, whenever a lot of money gets tossed around, a copywriter will pen an online press release about it.)
Source: Business Wire
7. New Location Press Release Announcement
If you or your client’s brick-and-mortar business opens another location (or moves locations), yep, you guessed it: Announce that juicy news in a press release!
Are you seeing a theme running through all of these press release examples?
“Newsworthy” doesn’t just mean the information or announcement is important to the brand. It’s also important to the wider world, as the news will impact their community, industry, employees, or audience.
Remember that when you’re trying to determine if a piece of news warrants a press release or not. For example, if you’re just trying to spin a blog into a press release, that’s a no-go. The news you want released should have some impact on someone, somewhere.
Press Releases: Just One Piece of Your Overarching Business/Content Strategy
A well-written press release template can absolutely get you noticed, not to mention drive traffic and leads to your business (or your clients’ businesses) through the power of mentions, word-of-mouth, and increased brand awareness.
Heck, who knows? Your news story could even get featured in a major media outlet. 📣
Learning exactly how to write press releases is thus a valuable skill for content business owners, copywriters, and entrepreneurs – whether you’re writing and submitting them for your brand, or for your clients.
If you have a gift for writing, creating press releases for clients could be a great way to get paid. (Remember, we made nearly $600,000 on press release writing alone at my content agency!)
Start your skill-building journey with press release writing skills.
I’d love to welcome you in my press release writing workshop today. Get the templates, the videos, and the how-to from yours truly and build a lasting skill. Enroll now.