What Is A Press Release: How To Write And Distribute One

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If you work in the public relations sector, you’ve definitely heard of the term “press release.” While used often, many still wonder what is the true press release definition. Read more to gain an understanding of the press release definition and learn how to distribute and write them.

Definition Of A Press Release

According to Wikipedia’s press release definition, a press release is: “an official statement delivered to members of the news media for the purpose of providing information, an official statement, or making an announcement.” In more simplistic terms, a press release is a way to share your story with the media.

As technology advances and our methods of communication evolve, the press release definition has evolved with it. However, the basis of all press releases is communication. It doesn’t matter whether that be through a phone call, email, or delivered to journalists by hand  — which is how the inventor of the concept, Ivy Lee, released his story! 

Press releases have a certain anatomy and structure that is followed to make sure they include all the relevant information a news source would need to distribute the story. They start with the most important information and then trickle down to more general information. The elements used in a press release include: 

  • A logo
  • A headline
  • A subheadline
  • A dateline
  • A lead paragraph
  • A body paragraph
  • A quote
  • A “boilerplate” (this is where you explain your company or organization)
  • Contact information 

Why Press Releases Are Important

man holding a mike and giving a press release

Press releases are valuable for several reasons: 

  1. They tell the public you’re open! By sharing a newsworthy story about your business with the media, you’re letting the public know your company is open and ready for business. Press releases are a great way to share news and advancements in your company while getting your name out there. 
  2. They can boost your SEO. If done correctly, press releases are a great way to gain traffic from potential customers to your website. Even if your original release does not include a backlink, other blogs or websites might pick up your release and include a dofollow link to your website. Just make sure your press release is quality. Only quality press releases get shared with a quality link!
  3. They increase your reputation. Press releases make your company look more legitimate. When you share exciting or inspiring news about your business, those who Google it will see this news and see that your company is out there, accomplishing great things! 

When To Do A Press Release

Press releases are created for innovative, exciting news. Think about something that’s newsworthy that you’d like to share about your company. Maybe your company is brand new, or being revamped. Maybe your news is investment related. Has your business received massive funding, and even more notably so, from an important source? Whatever the news may be, make sure it’s thrilling enough to catch the attention of reporters and the public. 

When You Should Not Do A Press Release

Press releases should NOT be done for everyday activities. Think about the type of news you like to consume related to your business or niche. Do you find yourself getting excited about routine updates in your industry? Probably not. When creating a press release, make sure it’s on an event or topic that doesn’t happen daily. Think like a reporter! Media outlets will only accept press releases that they believe will truly catch the attention of their audience.

Press releases should also not be done if you’re simply trying to contact a media outlet to get interviewed. Press releases are great for sharing a story already formulated and written about your brand or business! However, if you would like to have an interview, it’s best to pitch yourself to journalists one-on-one. Contact journalists through a personalized method — whether that be through their email, their phone number, their Instagram, etc. Let the journalists know who you are and why they should interview you! 

Why Use A PR Agency For Press Releases

Submitting a press release can be a lot of work, and it’s important for your business that it’s done correctly. A public relations agency will have the required training needed to make sure all aspects of the press release are handled properly. If you submit a press release that is missing information, or unorganized, no media outlets will even spare a minute to read it. 

Agencies know how to submit press releases, and also where. Submitting a press release about a pet care brand to a technical journalist would be a waste of time, yet many companies do not check what the journalists they submit their press releases to specialize in! Agencies have the knowledge — and more importantly, the connections — to know which journalists and contributors specialize in which niches and to choose the best connections to submit your story to.

In Conclusion 

While the press release definition may sound super official and confusing, it’s actually pretty simple! Press releases are just a way to communicate with the world and tell your story. They should be used to tell only innovative stories, not day-to-day activities, and they are also a fantastic way to boost your search engine optimization! Watch our newest YouTube video to make sure you’re a press release expert! Then, work with an agency like Otter PR to help you share your business’ story with the media. 

How To Distribute A Press Release

Now that you know what the press release definition is and why it is so important, you might be wondering how exactly do I go about distributing it? Read on to learn the two most common and effective ways to distribute a press release. 

Method One: Press Releases For SEO 

How To Distribute

The first method of distributing a press release is to go through a wire service. Through the wire service, your press release will be distributed on to popular media outlets such as Yahoo!, Bloomberg and Fox. 

When To Use This Method

You should use this method for distributing a press release if you’re just starting your brand or business. Distributing through a wire service will help get your company’s name out there in the world. This method is also great if you want to SEO optimize your business. When people google the name of your business or brand, they will see whatever media outlet has picked up your story. Ideas for types of press releases you can distribute through a wire service include the grand opening of your company or a large event or celebration that your business is throwing. Have you released a new product, service or promotion? Has your funding increased through an exciting investor or by an extravagant amount? If the answer is yes, you’ll want to distribute your press release through a wire service.

Cost

This first method of distributing a press release is the cheaper option. Prices can be as low as $30. This is because this method is more generalized. You’ll be distributing your press release though a large number of sources, however a specific amount of time or attention is not guaranteed to be put toward your story.

Woman holding video camera recording people

Method Two: Press Releases To Share A Story 

How To Distribute

The second method of distributing a press release involves directly contacting journalists or reporters. This method involves more strategic thinking and is less of a “throwing information at the wall and hoping it sticks” method like method one. If you’re having trouble accessing journalists, you can also go through a public relations agency (like Otter PR!) and utilize the valuable connections that publicists have. You’ll want to make sure that you (or a publicist) are reaching out to journalists that have a specific interest in the type of story you’d like to share. For example, if you would like to share a story about your renewable energy company, it would be best to contact journalists that specialize in reporting about renewable energy/energy conservation.

When To Use This Method

You’ll want to use this method if you have a time sensitive story that is relevant to what is going on in the world today. This is because journalists are always looking to report on news that is up-and-coming and relevant to current events. You’ll also want to use this method if you’re an entrepreneur who wants to share a specific story or value rather than just trying to get your name out in general or sharing general information about your company. 

Cost

This method of distributing a press release is more costly than the first method. This is because this method requires more strategy and is a more individualized approach in comparison to the method one’s more general take. 

In Conclusion

One method of distributing a press release is not better than the other! It just depends on the type of story you’d like to put out there and whether or not this story is time sensitive or more general. Each approach has its unique pros and cons and it’s important to take the time to decide which distribution method is right for you.

Watch our latest YouTube video to learn more about distributing press releases!


How To Write A Press Release

Okay, so you know what a press release isand how to distribute one, but now you’re probably wondering “wait — how do I even write this thing?!” Yes, if you are working in the public relations sector or have a business or brand that you want to share with the world, learning how to write a press release is key. However, learning how to write a press release doesn’t have to be a difficult process! Read on to learn the best format for writing a press release and you’ll see your story end up in the news in no time.

Purpose Of Writing A Press Release

Look, we know you’re excited to learn the nitty-gritty of how to write a press release. However, before you learn to write one, it’s important to be sure that you know a press release’s purpose. To review and sum it up simply, there are three main purposes for writing a press release:

  1. You want this information to get picked up by the media.
  2. You are releasing for an SEO boost or to just get your new brand or business’ name out there.
  3. You need this information released to the public for legal reasons. Depending on the nature of your business, some actions or processes of your company may need to be public or you’ll run into legal issues. Yikes!

Regardless of why you’re releasing your press release, all press releases have to be informational and (relatively) unbiased. Of course, making your press release interesting is a great way to get journalists to actually want to click on it in their emails and read it! However, the main purpose of a press release is simply to convey information. This means that while it’s okay to want to make your  press release cute or interesting, you need to make sure that by the time the journalist has finished reading your release that they actually know what’s going on! 

Why Learning To Write A Press Release Is Important

The truth of the matter is that while it may be easy to compile a bunch of information into an email and mass email every journalist of your choice, the hard part is seeing that press releases make it into large media outlets and on news stations. That’s why learning to write a press release is so important! Submitting a well-written, organized press release is the most efficient way to end up in the news! Once your press release is released to the wire, it’s no longer in your hands; it’s up to the journalists to decide whether they’re sharing your story with the world or the trash.

Press Release Template

The Title 

Never underestimate the importance of an impactful title. Sure, the title maybe makes up less than ten percent of all the content in your press release, but it’s the first thing that journalists see when reading their emails! Think about the subject line of an email. What types of headlines are you most likely to click on? You’re going to want to come up with something that’s exciting and incites curiosity in the reader to want to know more about what you have to offer. However, there has to be a good balance between creativity and making sure your title is still factual. Yes, you want your journalist to want to click on your press release, but you still need to make sure the information you’re conveying is true! 

You want to make sure your title captures the attention of your audience, is thought provoking, and of course, less than a sentence. Think about the answers to these questions when considering your title: 

  • What is the point of your press release? Why are you writing it?
  • Why should a journalist pick your press release up? Remember, journalists receive tons of press release submissions daily! How are you going to make yours stand out?
  • Does your title match current events? Relating to current events will make journalists want to view your press release even more because journalists are always on the lookout for news that will attract their readers’ attention! Nothing is more attention grabbing than a relevant and timely story. 

First Paragraph

While the title of your press release is important when writing it, so is that first paragraph! Here is where you’ll want to tell the journalist or editor why your press release is relevant and important to their audience. Of course you want an editor’s interest when writing your press release. However, the editor’s job is to garner interest from their readers. Therefore, you should be thinking about why their readers would be interested in your press release, as well.

Keep this first paragraph short and to the point, as well. Journalists have so many press releases to sort through in a day, they’re probably not going to want to take a significant amount of time to read just one! That’s why you need to make sure all of your important information is in the beginning of your press release, while still adding that flair that makes your press release stand out from the rest. 

Lastly, you’ll want a call to action. Your call to action will vary depending on the event you’re promoting, but you’re going to want to say something that gets the reader to engage with what you’re promoting. Whether that’s telling them to buy a ticket to your concert, register for your speaking event, or sign up for a class you’re hosting, you’re going to want to invite the reader to take some sort of actionable step. 

Other Components When Writing A Press Release

Your press release can be as long or as short as you want. It’s important to make sure you convey all relevant information, but you don’t want to be too long-winded. Again, time is of the essence when it comes to writing a press release! A press release between 400 to 500 words is the ideal length. While you need to keep your press release short, it’s a good idea to think about including the following components:

  • Background information. Don’t assume that reporters automatically know the context of your story! Give them background information on your company that you feel is relevant and will help sell your company. 
  • Facts. State relevant facts about your business! Including numbers is always a great way to build credibility and interest in your business. 
  • Opinions. Including the (positive, of course) opinions about your company from customers is also a great way to build credibility and help paint your business or brand in a positive light.
  • Quotes. Any relevant quote to your business or to the event that you’re promoting is always a great addition to your press release. 

In Conclusion

Now that you know what the press release definition is, how to distribute one and how to write one, you can officially adorn yourself with the title of “Press Release Expert.” Congratulations! Watch our newest YouTube video to learn more about writing press releases.

Deven McCray

Deven McCray

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