However, given that sharing news content is a journalist’s job, they receive lots of press releases every day. For this reason, a sloppily-written press release will stand out almost immediately. When you’re writing a press release, it’s therefore important to avoid spelling errors, grammar mistakes, false information, or deviations of any kind. In order to do this well, it’s important to understand the different types of press releases and proper formatting.
How to Format a Press Release
On average, recipients of a press release spend only a couple of seconds reviewing a press release before deciding whether or not they want to cover the story, so this is where you need to make your point. Your headline will play an important role in the first impression that you make. Since journalists are unlikely to go digging in your press release for the important information, it’s important to highlight this clearly in your headline.
While the subheading is optional, it’s also highly recommended because it helps you include more information right at the top of the news release. Since it is an extension of a headline, the subheading should expand on why your news matters to the audience you’re writing for.
As you write your lead, you need to think of all the aspects of your announcement that are most likely to impress, inform, or entice audiences. Since your heading needs to be concise, a subheading presents a wonderful opportunity to expand on it.
The dateline is placed at the beginning of your press release and is designed to communicate the date and location of your news announcement. While this may be a tiny part of a press release, it is an important part of the standard press release format because it gives your news some context. To make it more effective and eye-catching, the information in the dateline should be in bold, and separated from the first sentence of the body with a dash.
Ideally, press releases should be at least three paragraphs long and include an opening paragraph, supporting paragraphs, and closing paragraphs that reiterate and summarize the release’s main points. This is where you get into the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your news.
The best writing style to use when creating body paragraphs is The Inverted Pyramid, where the first paragraph contains the essential information and entices readers to continue reading. Also, the opening sentence should be clear and robust and have enough information so that it can stand on its own. When media professionals read a press release, they will think in terms of how relevant the piece is to their audience. For this reason, when you present all the essential information at the beginning, it helps retain the reader’s attention and allows journalists to start imagining what their story about your company could look like.
Adding a second paragraph or any other subsequent paragraph is perfectly acceptable as long as the information supports the goal of the press release and explains why it is worthy of media coverage. The focus should always be on making the message interesting, valuable, and relevant to those who might read the press release. Sometimes, brands opt to include a paragraph containing a quote from an authority figure or a testimonial from an existing customer to support the company’s message.
As mentioned previously, quotes are generally added to body paragraphs to boost the credibility of a press release to any reader. Although optional, quotes are a recommended component to add more detail to an announcement. Depending on their context, quotes can highlight the relevance of an announcement, or explain how important the company’s news is for their industry. Much like every other part of a press release, the information in your quotes needs to help media professionals have a complete story when they decide to write their own story. In addition, a quote increases the chances that a journalist will reference your press release. If possible, the quote needs to be from the most high-profile, credible source associated with a company.
6) Company information
The last paragraph of a press release should include a small snippet of positive information about your company. Also called a boilerplate, this short paragraph should condense important facts about your brand as well as your future business aspirations. Like the rest of the press release, the company information section should be limited to the most critical information that can be used later for any follow-ups to expand on details.
7) Media contact information
Finally, there is no point putting so much effort and planning into a press release if there is no way for journalists to reach your company for more information. For this reason, you need to make sure that you provide contact information so that media professionals can get in touch with either the person who wrote the press release. Alternatively, you can help them connect with a marketing or PR representative who can provide additional information if necessary. While there are many ways to reach out to media contacts, the best way to start a relationship with them is through email. As such, your press release will be much more effective if you add the phone number and email address of the person responsible for handling media inquiries.
Before we go further into the article, it is essential to note that creating a press release can be very time-consuming. You may have all the correct information but be unsure of how to turn it into a winning press release. If this is the case, fear not. It is for this very reason that PR agencies like Pressfarm exist. The experts at Pressfarm can help you turn your knowledge into newsworthy content by creating email pitches, press releases, guest posts and media kits that can be used to capture media attention and inspire your target audience.
Pressfarm’s PR professionals and expert writers can also help proofread and edit an existing press release for you, in addition to providing insight and advice into the PR industry. Moreover, by providing custom media lists and a database of 1 million+ journalists, Pressfarm can help you connect with the best journalists in your niche. By partnering with Pressfarm, you could launch a PR campaign that boosts your online visibility by helping your brand to feature in relevant search results.
Types of Press Releases
While there is a standard press release format, there are different types of press release that you can create to get your news out there. All these press releases generally follow the same “rules” with a few minor tweaks depending on what information is presented. Let us look at some press release types that you can use to generate media coverage.
1) General News
General news releases are designed to generate traditional coverage in all types of media, whether paid, owned, or earned. A general news press release is a common way for businesses to get the word out there about their brand. Of course, regardless of the news you have to share, all effective press releases should present newsworthy information. With a newsworthy story, you can draw the attention of a target media professional or audience.
2) Launch Release
The launch press release is used when a company plans on releasing a new product, website, initiative, or anything new. While it is similar to a general news release, it emphasizes timeliness. It should also help create anticipation about the launch that is about to happen.
3) Event Press Release
An event press release promotes an event that a company is hosting, attending, or sponsoring. These press releases are designed to raise awareness among the general public and invite media members to attend or cover the event. With an event press release, timing is everything. To get numbers in the door and increase attendance, you need to plan this press release well before the event so that enough people know about it. This will also give media professionals enough time to get the event on their busy schedule and begin preparing accordingly.
While all press releases should answer the essential questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how, you need to think of event marketing press releases as a party invitation with all the necessary information that the party-goer needs to attend.
4) New Hire Press Release
While this may not seem like newsworthy information, announcing an exciting new hire can help your company build credibility. This is especially the case if your new hire is a high-level executive with plenty of experience in the field. This type of press release is supposed to act as a formal announcement to inform customers, investors, and the general public about the essential changes in leadership.
If you plan to release a new hire press release, then you need to objectively describe what the new hire is bringing to the company. This gives people a better idea of what to expect from the new executive. The release should include:
Past roles they have held.
- Companies they have worked for.
- Any other significant professional achievements.
5) Rebranding Press Release
Sometimes, out of no fault of your own, you find that you need need to do a rebranding so that your company can stay relevant in the market. When you decide to rebrand, you need to communicate this to your existing customers and stakeholders. A rebranding press release should specify the details that people can expect from the change. This should include details about new pricing models, audiences served, products or features offered, or any updated visual content. This press release should also provide an opportunity to excite audiences by highlighting how rebranding can improve customer experience.
6) Partnership Press Release
Much like a rebranding press release, the primary purpose of a partnership press release is to inform audiences of the upcoming changes a company is going through with a new partnership deal. Usually, both sides of a partnership have already built relationships with their customer base. This means that you need to write a press release that appeals to both audiences. Both brands can leverage each other’s audiences to gain more exposure.
7) Award Press Release
Receiving an award for your achievements in your industry is a great accomplishment. It’s true that industry awards are pretty standard, they are not often publicized. For this reason, in order to establish your brand as an industry leader and expert in your field, you need to create a press release that highlights your achievement. This way, your target audience can learn more about the brand. Receiving an award can be an exhilarating experience. Nevertheless, your press release should still be objective and discuss the award from a business perspective rather than bringing personal emotions into it. Excitement and emotions are also necessary. Even so, you should consider channeling your excitement by explaining how the award sets you apart from your competition and how it will further your mission.
8) Charitable Initiative Press Release
With people thinking twice about what company they want to support and what products to buy, charitable initiatives are a great way to win customers over. This is because engaging in charity shows the public that your company cares about more than just the bottom line. This is especially the case now with the COVID-19 pandemic when consumers are connecting more with companies that are doing as much as possible to give back to the community during a tough time.
A charitable initiative press release is your company’s chance to prove to your audiences that you are concerned about more than money. This press release also gives people an inside look into your business culture. Humans are emotional beings who gravitate more towards feel-good stories than factual stories. While promoting your charity efforts is important, it’s still essential not to be overly promotional. The most effective way to write this type of press release is to give a high-quality description of the work done and rally others to get behind the cause.
Beyond the standard details that would go in any press release, you also need to include details that will excite readers and intrigue the media. Information such as the people who helped, the hours worked, or the money earned is usually quantitative, and those numbers will help your story gain more traction.
9) Crisis Communications Press Release
Crisis management is another essential part of any company’s overall business strategy. When a crisis breaks out, the best way to deal with it is by providing a personal statement by the company. With this information, people will not begin to speculate, develop their theories of the current situation, or predict the future.
A crisis press release is designed to help stop speculation, retain trust in the business, stop potential investment decline, and establish a central source of accurate information.
Press Release Examples
FIT Press Release
In this press release example, FIT did a great job using the standard press release format. The headline is clear and concise and provides a snippet of the rest of the information in the release. The press release also uses a subheading to provide additional text that supports the main idea. The dateline is separated from the rest of the text to make it clear. While the paragraphs are short and broken into more than three body paragraphs, the Inverted Pyramid style is used to present the essential information initially with additional support information to follow. There is also a quote from a high-ranking member of the FIT to increase the credibility of the press release.
Apple Press Release
While Apple is well-known has probably sent out over million press releases, let us look at this one. The headline shown above is clear, concise, and simple while using a combination of words that capture attention. The rest of the press release follows the standard press release format as well, with the location clearly stated as New York.
Since it is a new product release, the first paragraph gets right to the point and talks about the various features that set the MacBook Air apart from other products. The next few sections include a quote from a high-ranking member of the Apple team. This humanizes the company, thus helping them to reach their audience better. Along with that, the boilerplate is simple and includes data and Apple’s plan for the future.
Nestlé Press Release
In this partnership press release example, Nestlé does a great job following the standard press release format. The dateline is presented right at the beginning, along with their logo. The difference between this press release and the others before it is that rather than making the dateline bold and separating it from the lead paragraph with dashes, they have included it before the headline. This is perfectly all right because the dateline still clearly highlighted. The headline of the press release is also self-explanatory and provides just enough information to entice audiences.
Rather than having lengthy paragraphs, this press release presents information in shorter sections that pack a punch. The press release also includes quotes from influential members of both the Nespresso and Starbucks teams. This adds credibility to the partnership. Finally, the contact information provided clarifies that there are two media contacts from both companies who journalists can contact for additional information.
GHL Systems Press Release
This award press release example clearly and concisely describes an award given to GHL Systems by global payment solutions company Ingenico. The headline itself is self-explanatory, stating that the company has received two awards. Even so, the press release’s subheading provides even more detail about the titles of the awards provided. The dateline is clearly stated to include the city and the date the press release was created and separated by a dash. The body paragraphs also provide a clear explanation of why the company received the award. The press release includes the logos of both companies to distinguish the companies involved with the award. Finally, the contact information is very clearly stated and provides access to someone who ranks highly in the company.
Empty Bowls Press Release
In this charitable initiative press release, the format is slightly different. Rather than having the contact information at the bottom as in the previous examples, it is located at the beginning of the release. Additionally, the headline is concise and straightforward to describe the rest of the press release. However, it also seems that the press release is focused on the local community or audiences who know what “Empty Bowls” is. The dateline usually presents the location and date in one line, but in this example, it is separate.
Target Press Release
In this crisis communications press release example, Target does an excellent job creating a clear headline to discuss how they are trying to fix the crisis. Since the press release gets right down to business, there is no subheading, but the dateline is clearly stated with the location and date. The lead paragraph is also apparent to present the immediate course of action that the company is planning to take regarding this crisis. The press release also does an excellent job of adding important links for people looking for more information and gain tips on avoiding any data breach problems in the future. With a crisis communication press release, it is essential to add a quote from a high-ranking company member to add credibility and instill trust.
Everblue Energy Press Release
In this new hire press release example, Everblue Energy follows the standard press release format, with a few tweaks. The headline clearly presents the intention of the press release without keeping readers guessing. There is no visible dateline in the lead paragraph, but a “created on” date is in the top left corner. The press release includes a quote from the new hire, as well as her credentials and accolades. Moreover, the company has managed to keep the press release to one page while also including all the necessary information for its readers. Finally, while the contact information does not follow the same format as our previous press release examples, it is clearly stated at the bottom. Finally, there is a link to the media contact so that readers can gain more information if needed.
Regardless of what kind of press release you are trying to create, it is essential to include the basic information. This way, media professionals and audiences can access information more easily. After all, whole idea behind creating a press release is to gain media attention. In order to do this, your press release needs to not only have newsworthy information, but also follow a standard press release format. Failure to do this will result in a press release which is confusing. A confusing press release can easily rob you of a good opportunity for media coverage.