December 1, 2016
How to Write a Press Release
There are few items more closely associated with the communications industry than press releases – it’s important for people interested in the field or new to a communications job to understand the purpose of a press release and to know how to write one.
Here are some tips for writing a great press release:
The purpose of a press release
Organizations use press releases to relay important announcements to key audiences, including investors, consumers and the media.
How to send out a press release
Key points to consider when writing a press release
The following points are important to remember when writing a press release:
- This is not a creative exercise. Writing a press release is not an opportunity to experiment with flowery prose or lay out personal opinions. As a piece of business writing, you should employ clear, concise language. People who read a press release should be able to quickly and fully understand the announcement.
- Cover the 5 W’s. A reader should walk away understanding the 5 W’s – Who, What, When, Where and Why – whenever relevant. Who is responsible for this new corporate segment? What will happen as a result of this announcement? When will this event take place or this change be implemented? Where will certain meetings take place? Why is this change or event occurring?
- Skip the jargon. While it’s sometimes impossible to completely avoid financial or legal language in a corporate press release, investors, consumers and the media all need to be able to understand what the release actually states.
- Keep it concise. A press release tends to be between 3-5 paragraphs, though the length can vary depending on the information you need to include.
Why press releases are still relevant
Despite the rise in corporate social media accounts and digital media, a standard press release is still a key tool in business. Press releases remain a valuable and reliable source of information for investors, consumers and the media. Additionally, press releases are often the core building block for other forms of communication – a company might link to a press release in a tweet, or use language from a press release in a video of a CEO, a letter to employees, or on a call with investors and analysts.
What to do after sending a press release
The next steps following a press release vary based on the goal. Is an organization launching a new initiative that it wants the public to be aware of? In that case, it makes sense to follow up with media interviews to broadcast the company’s message.
Press releases tend to follow this dependable template:
Headline Describing the Main Point
Subhead Providing Additional Detail or Describing Secondary Announcement
CITY, State, Date – Opening paragraph providing clear announcement.
Quote from CEO or other organizational leader offering support or rationale for the announcement.
Paragraph providing additional details.
About [Organization Name]
Boilerplate description of the organization.
Title / Organization Name
Once you have the template filled in, the finished product will highlight all of the key parts of your announcement in an engaging and compelling way.