The Public Relations (PR) world is massive and many companies have long used PR firms to help them manage publicity aspects of their businesses. Yet what about smaller businesses who may not have the need for full-blown PR services – like my websites, for example?
Many smaller businesses like mine handle a lot of things ourselves. This can be a major stumbling block where press releases are concerned, often due to a lack of experience in the field. Thankfully, resources exist that can help us out.
What is a Press Release
Traditionally, press releases were official communications from companies to media outlets. The latter would then take those press releases and consider them for rewriting and publication as news. Yet due to the evolving landscape of the media industry, press releases have changed a little over the years.
Finding an Angle
When writing a press release, your biggest challenge is to identify the right angle to come from, in order to grab the attention of your readers. For press releases, your readers will be journalists who have to sift through dozens each day.
You need to stand out with something extra special and uniquely interesting.
Finding the right angle to catch a journalists’ attention can be challenging since various publications have their own priorities.
Try making sure your press release meets some of the following criteria:
- Resolves an issue especially something that impacts most
- Shows good progress in achieving something beneficial to the community
- Achieves a significant goal
- Gives new insight into something relevant with new findings
- Discuss something a mass audience cares and would want to know
- Address something in a timely manner or is trending
- Presents something new and refreshing
Once you find the perfect angle for your story, do keep your press release tight and focused. Your reader’s attention may be limited, so you need to get your message across as quickly and clearly as possible. Inform the readers why your story is relevant and why.
Simply put, finding the right angle for your story from the start is important as it lays the foundation for your press release success.
Best Press Release Examples
The press release from HostScore is simple yet comprehensive enough to clearly explain what HostScore is about and its purpose. It was also published in a timely manner, a day after launch, giving vital beneficial information on the service.
There’s also a hyperlink to HostScore which is great to drive more traffic to the website, along with contact information which helps journalists who may need to learn more details.
2. GOJO & Lubrizol
This GOJO and Lubrizol partnership press release immediately detail the who, what, when, why, and how of the story. They did a great job in convincing readers to care by positioning the news as a solution to a major community problem – the current pandemic.
3. Manna Development Group
The Manna Development Group acquisition press release follows a more traditional format of brevity. Aside from answering the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the acquisition, it incorporates quotes from key leadership figures – something that many news outlets love.
What is the Purpose of a Press Release
The main purpose of a press release is to communicate something through an official channel. It comes direct from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. In some cases, they promote something significant or specific.
In others, they can also be used to help build credibility and trust with your stakeholders. Ultimately, the purpose of a press release is to create the necessary context for members of the media to expound upon – and hopefully, tell the story you want.
Your objective is to create that ‘wow’ factor in the audience, journalists, and stakeholders while remaining professional, truthful, and factual. Although there are many types of press releases for various purposes with their respective requirements, they all have one thing in common:
- To intrigue and pique the interests of all audiences.
- Objectively showcase the newsworthy angle.
- Provide journalists a plethora of resources to develop their respective angles, hoping they will spread the word.
- To promote your business' appearance/image
Press releases have shifted from the physical to digital and today are spread via so many different channels. Whatever the medium, as long as a press release achieves its objective, this is what matters – or doesn’t it?
Understanding What’s Press-worthy
A successful public relations campaign usually launches with a good press release. There are different types of press releases with each warranting a customized approach. Depending on the type of engagement you’re aiming for, the type of press release you draft should be tailored for your target audience.
These are the types of press releases that are press-worthy:
If you’re planning to open the doors to your business and you want everyone to know about it you want to shout it out as loudly as you can. Remember, this is time-sensitive, so you want to publish this press release close to the launching time.
You’ll need to include more information on your new business opening – the who, what, when, where, why, and how details. The overall body of your press release should provide an overview of your business, why it stands out among competitors and its benefits to readers.
Last but not least, include a hyperlink to your company so you can drive more traffic to your website. Also, always ensure your website address is published in its full written form. This is because most journalists would do a simple copy and paste, omitting the hyperlink altogether. Also, include the relevant contact information.
You’ve Secured Funding!
Your company has successfully secured funding for a project and you’re ecstatic, wanting to tell the whole world. A press release is perfect for this, as wide distribution of the news reinforces the fact that you’re standing on solid ground.
If investors didn’t have faith in your business, you wouldn’t be getting any money! However, bear in mind that your press release must provide something unique and newsworthy – you’re not the only one who gets funded.
Coming from the angle of what you’re going to do with the investment and how it will benefit society would be good for starters.
Also, as long as you’ve obtained permission from your investors, you can reference them in your press release. This tactic can be beneficial if your investors have a high profile, ultimately improving your chances of getting better news coverage.
It would also be advisable to mention your company’s previous achievements as this helps to generate more interest than other generic topics.
New Product/Service or Territory Launch
Such a press release should announce a new product or service launch or maybe enters service in a new location. This is to help build excitement, anticipation, and talk among people – it’s the hype that drives popularity. You’ll need to time this announcement, depending on the day and time of the launch.
One of the biggest mistakes made by companies is that they don’t include the venue details. You’ll be shooting yourself in the foot if you do so; an event press release without a location won’t get you much media coverage.
The press release should list out the features (products) or value-added services (service/territory). However, you don’t want to bury your audience in too many details but at the same time, you don’t want them to miss key information either.
So, curate a list of the notable features/services and benefits, then point out what sets it apart from others. This is what makes it newsworthy.
Your purpose is to create an easy story for the journalists to write about for their readers to appreciate. You can also look into offering a promotional code for people who purchase your product or use the service when it launches.
Winning a New Partnership
A partnership often means big changes for the company that often trickle down to customers. A good press release helps eliminate the fear of the unknown among stakeholders. So, focus on the positive changes the partnership brings.
Start your press release by addressing the who, what, when, where, why, and how details of the partnership in one paragraph. Then, focus on how the partnership resolves the current issues for stakeholders and the positive changes they can anticipate.
Finally, detail out how the partnership will play out and include quotes from both parties. This would help reassure stakeholders.
New Key Personnel Hire
A new hire press release typically announces that your company has hired a new person who is expected to have a serious impact on the business. This is important to drive confidence in specific areas – for instance, a new CFO or head of research.
Most new hires won’t warrant media coverage unless they’re executive leaders, also known as the C-suite. Remember to expound on their experience and proven track record – specifically in the areas you’re looking to push forward towards.
Winning an Award
An award press release showcases an accolade your company or an employee has won based on a business accomplishment. This helps to position your company as an industry leader, but only if stakeholders and your industry know about it.
Of course, the awards should be big enough to warrant general news coverage. That said, if the awards are industry-specific and not something the general public would know, then target your release to specific media organizations that cover your industry.
Start your press release on what, when, why, and to whom the award was issued. Remember, craft your release in an objective and humble tone. Then, talk about what the award would
mean for your company and also how this could ultimately be given back to society.
A business milestone press release’s objective is to feature a certain key achievement the company has reached that is significant to the industry. This is important as it strengthens your company’s reputation in the industry.
Talk about what the business milestone means to your company, stakeholders, and most importantly your customers. You can also discuss your company’s background and its role in contributing to the industry as a whole.
Let people know the massive effort that has led up to this milestone and elaborate on the people who have contributed to the success of the whole.
Event press releases inform the media when a company is attending, hosting, or sponsoring events. This is not only a great way to inform the public about your company’s activities, but it is also for industries to know what is going on in their space.
The event can range from unveiling new technology to raising money for charity. The purpose of the press release is to serve as an invitation for the media to cover the business’ involvement in the event. Included details should involve the what, when, where, why, who, and how of the event.
You need to also explain how media representatives can gain admission to cover it. Although there’ll be tons of information to be covered, always be clear and concise. You may consider using bullets if you need to.
Be careful though not to overinflate your event to get attention. Over-hyping something that hadn’t yet happened can easily backfire on you.
A research findings press release is usually a short summary of your research. Journalists usually use them when deciding to write a news article on recent scientific research. Therefore, such press releases should be clear, concise, engaging, and most importantly accurate.
Keep the press release light and accessible to non-expert readers. You’ll need to introduce the whos, whats, whens, and whys of the research finding. Take note that the first paragraph should be a stand-alone snapshot of the research. The rest should contextualize and provide additional information about the finding.
Don’t dive into nitty-gritty experimental details. Talk about how the finding advances scientific knowledge, reinforces a key idea, or provides a new method. Remember, never overhype or oversell the finding.
No two press releases are alike and what you’re actually building and the distribution audience needs to be considered carefully to fit your needs. While the basic formats are rather common (and honestly, flexible), you need a strong focus on the exact contents.
Consider carefully what you say in your press releases – journalists love it when they sniff out something wrong – deliberate or otherwise.
In my case, I was fortunate that my key content provider was a former journalist and gently prodded me along the way. That was part of the inspiration for this article – to help those of you who may have that advantage. I hope it helps :)