A press release is one of the most important tools in the arsenal of any public relations or communications professional.
But writing them isn’t as easy as just following a format. Press releases are an exercise of thought that require you to answer a few essential questions every time, rather than just jam predetermined boxes full of information.
We spoke to Jada, an expert over at Brunswick Group—a premier international public relations and strategic communications firm that helps companies navigate major financial, political, and social events—about how to write the perfect press release (and prepare for a career in the field).
Answer All The Questions
“We really take the time and effort to make sure we’re including the details in a press release that answer every single question that we could think a stakeholder could have,” says Jada, an Executive at Brunswick Group and recent graduate of The University of Alabama.
The document is so important to get right, Jada explains, because it’s the first piece of information out there—so there are bound to be questions.
What’s happening? Why is it happening? What does this mean for the future? These are all things that should be answered in a press release—and done so succinctly.
Ensuring that the press release contains all of this information is important—but it’s not the only consideration to make when writing one.
Keep It Short And Sweet
“We’re a big fan of short and sweet,” Jada says. “Because a lot of the times these press releases are to guide the conversation that media tends to have or that they produce a story from.”
“You want someone who’s going to read it to see it quickly and know the gist of the announcement,” she explains. “And regular people like you and I are going to read what the article is more than what the press release is.”
That’s why, Jada says, setting a one-page limit for yourself is an important benchmark of press release quality.
“A two-page press release is sometimes unnecessary. It’s just too much information,” she says.
This is especially true considering that only a select group of media professionals and stakeholders are really going to be reading the release—like Jada says, everyone else is reading the articles or hearing the talking points on the news.
Fact Check It (Like Your Job Depends On It)
There’s another reason to keep the press release so concise: You don’t want to risk getting anything wrong.
Press releases are the first line of defense against misinformation—so making sure that they’re 100 percent accurate is a must.
“We’ve definitely had occurrences where we’ve had to refer back to a press release to correct someone,” Jada says.
“When researching other companies, I’ve seen press releases that have included wrong numbers or a decimal in the wrong place and those things can be catastrophic, in the sense that they wrongfully report something,” she explains.
For many companies that are publicly traded, reporting misinformation can lead to investigations and formal reprimands from regulatory agencies like the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). That’s why getting things like decimals, percentages, and any sort of statistics exactly right is essential.
These Same Skills Can Make You An Excellent Candidate For Public Relations And Communications Roles
The skills that are essential to building a great press release together are the same that make a great public relations professional: excellent writing ability, attention to detail, and being able to research and digest information in a way that makes it simple for others to learn.
Brunswick Group, whose specialty lies in helping companies navigate major social, political, and financial events, looks for these traits in their interns and early-career hires.
However, above all, Jada says, they look for adaptability and the ability to learn quickly.
“We’re looking for those highly talented individuals who are ready to dive into something and show that they can adapt really well to a circumstance,” she says.
“Curious individuals are really great candidates here at Brunswick because people who are smart are usually people who dig deep when it comes to a project,” Jada explains. “They’re asking those questions like, ‘Why are we advising them to do this?’ or ‘Why aren’t we advising them to do this?’”
This focus on research and writing skills is part of what drives Brunswick’s success—as well as their distinction in the communications space. That’s why they look for more than just Public Relations majors when they’re seeking interns and entry-level people. According to Jada, political science, literature, and even history majors can all make great public relations professionals.
After all, Brunswick employs people who were formerly on the Hill, lawyers, and even former CIA employees (in addition to a ton of intelligent recent graduates like Jada).
Want to start your PR career at a company that works (and thinks) outside the box? Check out open opportunities at Brunswick Group on WayUp!