What is a Press Release?

What is a press release? A press release is an official written statement delivered to the media to make an announcement or provide information. Keep reading to learn how you can use a press release to increase media coverage to better promote your business.

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What is a Press Release?

A press release is a written statement that is submitted to the media for publication. It is sent out by a professional news organization or company in order to inform consumers about an event, product launch, or some other newsworthy piece of information. 

The purpose of a press release is to get the news out to as many people as possible. News organizations depend on this sort of news to perform their job well. If you have ever successfully sent one out, then you know that it must be carefully written, professionally presented, and informative.

Read our Best Press Release Distribution Service 2021 review to find the right press release distribution for your business’s specific needs.

Why it is Important to Write Great Press Releases

Nowadays, most news outlets receive hundreds of press releases per week. While some people claim that this has helped the quality of news reports, others believe that the proliferation of PR pieces has diluted the quality of the information provided to audiences. 

Press Release Planning

The planning stage is not something to take lightly. There are numerous press releases submitted for news reporting every day. You need to give yourself an edge by planning appropriately. This starts with understanding the various parts of a press release.

Parts of a Press Release

A press release contains various parts. Here is a quick rundown of how to structure one.

PR parts include:

  • Company logo
  • Contact information
  • Release date 
  • Headline The title of your PR piece that explains the news
  • Bullet points — points that summarize the news
  • Lede line — a special line of 25 words or less that summarizes the entire news story that starts the body text
  • Body text — usually three paragraphs of main body text that uses primacy (order of importance) to flesh out the news 
  • Call to action — the last piece of body text that shares the next steps and actions to take on the news
  • Boilerplate text —  “About Us” text that is copy and pasted into the document
  • Contact — contact information of the person(s) that can be contacted to follow up with the news release
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What is a headline? A headline is the first thing that catches the eye when reading a press release. It is a phrase that is usually two words long and gives enough information to the reader to motivate them to read further. Many reporters strive to be very catchy when writing out these headlines. Other reporters strive not to use catchy phrases because they believe that it takes away from the actual news story they are reporting. Our position is that a great headline should inform the reader while inciting them to want to continue reading. This is achieved by artfully constructing your headline so it reads clearly, without being sales-like. 

Lede Line

What is the lede line? The lede line is the first line in the body text of a press release. This line answers in 25 words or less the who, what, when, where, and why of the news being reported. 

The lede line is the most important piece of information in the body of a release. This is what will be mentioned and discussed throughout the release. Whether it is a new product or service, an announcement on an important event, or important company news, the information that goes into a release is important to the readers and any reporters reporting on the organization.

Body Text

What is the body text? The body text follows the lede line and includes the full release details, a byline (a link to the reporter’s personal website), a date (the date the news was released), and a location (where the news release was distributed). When writing out a release, the time of day and location are very important details to take note of. Other details such as a deadline for an announcement are also very important.

Primacy and the Inverted Pyramid

What is an inverted pyramid? An inverted pyramid is a proven method used by many reporters to speed up the process of writing out their news releases. It consists of three main parts; namely, “most newsworthy,” “supporting details,” and “related information/contact.” Use this model to ensure you state the most important information first, followed by supporting details, and finally with related information and contact details.

Newsworthy Content

What news is worthy of a press release? A good press release should be written around the subject matter of the release in an interesting way. Two things that reporters always remember when working on a story are the news and the announcement itself, both of which are very important to the readers. If a PR piece does not mention news in an interesting way, it is not worthy of a press release.

Boilerplate — ‘About Us’

What is a boilerplate? A boilerplate is essentially text you’d find on the company’s “About Us” page. This information can be written in different styles, but all journalists know that a good boilerplate can give their stories a more professional tone and help make a news story sound well-researched and professionally crafted. It also shares with the public information about the company, their mission statement, and other important facts about the company, like its history.

Learn more with our guide on how to write a press release.

Practical Advice for Writing a Press Release

Take your press release a bit further by taking some practical advice when writing it on your own. 

Press Release — Best Practices:

If you are planning to write a press release, it is important to write one that isn’t too long. Lengthy PR pieces make it difficult for you to include all the relevant details without confusing your readers. 

Also, ensure that you do not repeat the same statement twice. Your headline and introduction should be the most important part of it and should answer questions pertaining to who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Your press release should also include information about you and your company. You can do this by including contact details in the headline. For example, if you are a software developer, you can include the name of your company. You should also include a boilerplate and the contact details of your press person (i.e., the person to be reached for more information surrounding the news being reported). 

If you are a writer putting out your own, include your name, contact details, and career details. Include your hobbies and passions in your press release’s boilerplate, as these will help you get more media coverage.

The last two sentences of your PR piece act as a call to action for journalists. You can use these two sentences to urge reporters to contact you for further information about your business or product.

Pitching and Distributing Your Story

When it comes to pitching your story, it is important that you do it properly. There are several different formats in which a journalist can pitch a story; however, the best way to pitch is to simply tell them what your story entails. 

As long as you provide clear information about what your product or service can do for them, journalists will be impressed with your pitch and will likely pursue the story. However, remember to also give them plenty of information about yourself so that they are able to contact you for further details.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a press release?

A press release is a brief statement covering news announcements about or from an organization. They are used to roll out new product launches and make it easier for journalists and news outlets to report on the news.

How do you end a press release?

The last piece of a press release should be your contact information. You’ll want to include the phone number(s), contacts’ name(s), email address, and physical address.

How is a press release structured?

Normally, they contain six parts organized as follows:

  • Logo, date, location
  • Eye-catching headline
  • Introduction with a strong lead statement
  • Three paragraph body content (leveled by primacy)
  • Boilerplate content
  • Contact information

Where do you send press releases?

Distribute to relevant media contacts. This includes newspapers, radio, and television.

If you don’t want to spend your time tracking down media outlets, submit it to a distribution service like eReleases. Many firms will also write one for you, saving even more time and ensuring they get picked up by the media.

Should I send a press release in Word or PDF?

Never send a press release in Portable Document Format (PDF). PDFs are challenging to format and are more likely to reduce the chance of it being reported on. Instead, use MS Word (.doc/.docx) to send it. If you do not have Word, it is better to copy and paste directly into an email rather than in a PDF.

Do press releases work?

Yes, press releases do work. Press releases have many benefits. 

Besides the obvious benefit of sharing corporate news to the media for reporting purposes, they also help corporations improve their search engine optimization (SEO), improve brand recognition, increase sales, increase market share, and enhance credibility. Press releases can also be a tool for mitigating negative press. They are often used by public relations firms to help companies improve PR.