Want to learn how to write a press release?
Then this guide is for you.
Today I’m going to show you the exact press release template we’ve used to get coverage in nearly every major media publication on the planet.
This template is proven and has worked for hundreds of our clients.
It’s the cornerstone of every successful public relations campaign that we have run.
And it’s essential if you want to know how to write a media pitch too.
Let’s get into it.
- What is a press release?
- We’ve changed how press releases are written
- What a press release is not
- Why use a press release template?
- Section 1: Date
- Section 2: Headline
- Section 3: The intro paragraph
- Section 4: Paragraphs two and three
- Section 5: The quotes
- Section 6: Body copy – key messages
- Section 7: The closing quote
- Section 8: Closing paragraph
- Section 9: ENDS
- Section 10: Contact details
- Section 11: Notes to Editor
- Rookie Mistake 1: Spelling and grammar
- Rookie Mistake 2: Overall length and formatting
- Go forth and get media coverage
- 8 steps to creating, formatting, pitching, and sharing your press release
Once you understand the formula for all successful press releases you will start to see the results you want.
Let’s take a look at the anatomy of the perfect press release and how you can go about creating one yourself, one that can form the heart of a successful PR plan.
But first, the essential foundation.
If you’re going to learn how to write a press release for your business, launch or event you need to understand the real purpose of this document – it’s to communicate that you have a news story to share.
This is at the heart of ALL public relations.
If you have a genuine news story you have a good chance of getting the media coverage you seek, and if you don’t, you won’t.
Sounds harsh? That’s the cruel reality of the newsroom.
These are the most important 400 words you are going to write for your business.
Let’s address the elephant in the room.
The press release is NOT dead.
Sure, spammy, story-less, advertorial press releases are dreadful – they always were and they always will be. But to think that the press release is dead because of misuse is to make a terrible error.
Please, don’t make your press release look like this …
Instead, the press release has changed – and that’s a good thing.
Understaffed newsrooms and time poor journalists need ready-made stories. There was a time when a reporter may have trawled through your press release to find a news hook – that time has passed – you need to give it to them on a plate.
And that’s why a quality press release will be of as much interest to a journalist as it will to a high profile blogger or podcaster. All of these are content publishers and they all want stories.
A decent press release will help you to know how to get a story on the local news, national media coverage and even form part of an influencer marketing campaign – if you get it right. It will make sure you help a reporter out.
Let’s be crystal clear.
A press release is not:
- Full of exaggeration and false promises
- A sales pitch
- Self-congratulatory – I/we are amazing, honestly!
- Dripping with acronyms and hype
- A list of technical information about a new product or business
- Simply the fact you are launching a report (you need a news hook)
- Simply the fact you are launching a new business (you need a news hook)
- A glorified CV/biography of your founder
- Anything else that sends a journalist to sleep
It’s the act of creating a quality press release that will enable you to understand what is newsworthy about your business and avoid making these mistakes.
Remember, a journalist, blogger, influencer or anyone else interested in your business wants to hear your story.
And that’s what a press release must be – a brilliant story about your business.
Even if you want to know how to write a press release for an event – it must also contain a news story.
There are some great public relations examples here that should give you an idea of what works.
A press release template has a very formulaic structure. It consists of 11 sections, and to miss even one of them is to relegate your press release to the piles of ignored stories.
Following a proven system, which in this case is based on 20 years of working in the media and pitching stories, removes all the guesswork. This enables you to get quick results.
A press release template brings consistency to the process. If you are finding that your first few press releases aren’t attracting the attention of journalists it’s much easier to tweak the variables (headline, intro par, quotes etc).
Trust the template, its 11 proven sections will set you apart and let your story be heard.
Let’s get into it and start at the very top.
To help you out we’re going to look at a real-life press release. This is from gluten-free blogger Vicki Montague, aka The Free From Fairy.
Vicki wanted to let the media know she was launching the world’s first wholegrain gluten-free flour.
This might sound obvious but make sure you date your press release. The date you are sending it is the date to use.
That way the journalist knows this is a new story and something worth considering. You don’t want to read old news, and neither does a journalist.
When sending a press release out far in advance, make sure you use the word EMBARGOED followed by the date.
That way the journalist knows that this story should not be published until that date in time.
Also, include your company logo in the top right-hand corner.
Your headline needs to include your news hook and grab the journalist’s attention – why should they care?
Most journalists get more than 200 email pitches a day and they are looking for specific information – if you don’t stand out you’re done for.
Keep the headline to under 10 words – this discipline will force you to focus on your news angle. Make sure within those 10 words you have the main four or five points of the story – remember, think about what is new.
Your headline will also be your email subject line so you MUST get this right. Why go to the trouble of creating a brilliant press release if your email isn’t even opened? Every step of this press release requires your skill and focus. Don’t rush it.
Here are some examples of effective headlines, ones that got great media coverage.
Your headline grabbed the journalist’s attention but the intro is where you win them over or lose them forever.
You’ve got 25 words or less to get across your entire story.
Get to the point immediately and include at least five key news points. Your intro needs to explain the who, what, why, when, how and where of your story.
Listen to Guardian journalist Emma Sheppard on her breathtaking method for nailing your intro paragraph.
Remember journalists are incredibly short on time. If your story isn’t immediately obvious, they will hit delete.
Here you need to really develop the story by introducing key factual pieces of information and provide the journalist with the colour to create the story.
Remember, your job is to make their job easier. Do this and you will get all the media coverage you want.
Don’t leave factual gaps or leave out important elements a journalist would require for the story.
There are so many news story examples and feature story examples online right now that can show you the type of information you need to include.
All paragraphs of your press release need to:
- Have a natural flow so each paragraph logically follows into the next
- Avoid repetition between paragraphs
- Avoid echoes throughout your press release
- Quickly, but with detail, deliver a compelling story
Now it’s time to introduce your spokesperson to the press release. This is the person you want to front your business. Choose carefully as they may be asked for further interviews if your story gets published.
The spokesperson will usually be one of the founders or one of the senior team of the business.
The quotes section deliver the ‘why’ behind the story. They communicate your passion and there’s a proven way to get this right.
Before you hit the keyboard think about what you want to get across and try the quotes out loud with a colleague. You want to sound like a human talking, not a robot writing.
Introduce them with their FULL NAME and POSITION then start the quotes (see the press release template to get an idea of what this looks like in practice).
Aim for two or three paragraphs of quotes and close the quotation marks at the end of the final paragraph.
Return to the main body of the press release now and include further factual detail and your key messages.
Your key messages can include:
- When/where your product or service is available
- The price of your product/service
- Your website
- Technical information about your product/service
Don’t confuse these key messages with your main news hook – they are different things.
Your press release is the vehicle to deliver your key messages.
There is no guarantee the journalist will include your website link, but by following this template, you give yourself the best chance.
Start to bring your press release to a natural conclusion with a closing quote.
Your closing quote can be from your main spokesperson or you can introduce a third party spokesperson whose endorsement gives your product/service more credibility.
Bring the press release to a neat conclusion with a closing endorsement.
An effective endorsement can come from a trade organization, some favourable market data, or a fact which points to the future and shows what is coming next for your business.
This paragraph helps the journalist see that you and your business are ‘ones to watch’ and are credible enough to write about.
Remember, at every stage of the press release you are looking to excite the journalist with a news story and reassure them that you are newsworthy.
Here’s a strategy that will put you ahead of 98% of your competitors – always finish your press release with the word ‘Ends’.
This is good journalistic practice and makes it clear to the journalist that the main body of the press release is complete.
Include full contact information for the person handling all press and media inquiries. Include their name, email address, and phone number.
Keep it simple and clear.
Those in the industry refer to this section as the boilerplate. It includes additional background information which could be of use to the journalist but is not critical to the story. This tends to be information about your broader marketing ideas for small business. Much more on that in our pick of the best marketing books.
Including this information anywhere else would slow down the press release.
Here you can include some biographical information about the founder, the CEO, the person quoted in the release. As well as:
- A little information about the history of the company
- Memberships of trade bodies
- Extra statistical information (sales figures, demographic information) that could provide the journalist with extra colour
- Links to reports or articles that may be of use to the journalist
Remember journalists are writers, this is their craft. If you show a lack of respect for their artform they will have disdain for you.
If you didn’t go to school use spell check or an app like Grammarly. In 2019 there are no excuses for spelling things incorrectly.
You’re shooting for 400 words in total. A journalist does not want an academic essay. They want a tightly worded, crisp, and concise news story.
Do not turn your press release into a pdf. Ever. Stick to a word document and attach it directly to your email. Also, copy and paste the text into your email – some journalists won’t even open an attachment.
And NEVER, EVER embed photographs into a press release.
Send high-resolution images (greater than 1mb) and attach them directly to your email. Include photos of your spokesperson, your product or a suitable news image.
Now you are truly ready to create a newsworthy press release for your business – one that will deliver the media coverage you deserve.
Remember to always follow these essential steps:
- Download our press release template and worksheet and follow the system
- Find a strong news angle for your press release
- Think which of the three main news story types you have? Is this business news, human interest news or events-based news?
- Put 90% of your creative energy into your headline and intro paragraph – this should be your story in its entirety. Take the time to get this right.
- Be laser-like in your targeting of journalists – only go to those you KNOW will love your story
- Make your email pitch direct and to the point – or use one of these 12 press release distribution services.
- Chase – but not TOO much
- Sit back and watch the media coverage come in then share it like crazy!
Taking the time to learn how to write a press release may seem like a lot of work but getting it right can have a huge and long-lasting impact on your business.
Now you’re ready. Go get the media coverage you deserve.