Crafting Impact: Essential Best Practices for Writing Press Releases

June 19, 2024

Crafting Impact: Essential Best Practices for Writing Press Releases

A lot has changed in public relations over the last two decades, and press releases still play a crucial role in modern PR and marketing strategies. Serving as powerful tools for elevating brand awareness and visibility, press releases can establish credibility and thought leadership, generate buzz and organic media coverage, increase website traffic, and position a company as an industry authority.

With a well-crafted press release, strategic media distribution, and effective follow-through, businesses can significantly enhance their public image and drive engagement through this timeless public relations tactic.

Let’s walk through what makes a press release powerful for your marketing efforts, and why you should hire a seasoned team of PR professionals to get the word out about your brand and its announcements.

Crafting a Compelling Press Release

First, let’s start with how powerful press releases are constructed. A successful press release comprises several key elements:

  • The Headline: Craft a concise, attention-grabbing headline that immediately conveys the most newsworthy aspect of your announcement. Use strong verbs and industry-relevant keywords to draw attention. Examples include “[Company Name] Revolutionizes Industry with [Product/Service]” or “[Organization] Secures Multi-Million-Dollar Funding.” Not everything will fit within the main press release headline, so you can also use a subhead to convey other key information.
  • The Lead (or Lede): Distill the most crucial information into the first paragraph, answering the essential questions: who, what, when, where, and why? This approach ensures that the reader gets the most important details upfront.
  • The Body: Elaborate on the details by providing context, quotes from key stakeholders, supporting data, and relevant background information. Keep the language clear, concise, and engaging. Incorporate strong quotes that offer unique perspectives or insights, and use data or statistics to back up claims and add credibility. Maintaining a neutral and objective tone while avoiding excessive promotional language is also essential.
  • The Quote(s): When working with a client on an important quote, remember that this will most likely be the soundbite that journalists pull from when they repurpose your press release. In other words, this is your opportunity to add color, personality, thought leadership, or even just a bit of flare. The rest of your press release will be fact-driven—the quote is your opportunity to contextualize and add some dimension through the voice of your spokesperson.
  • The Boilerplate: Summarize your company or organization in a brief paragraph, highlighting its mission, achievements, and relevant contact information. The boilerplate should be concise yet informative, giving readers a quick overview of your organization. Include a link to your website!

When writing each element, focus on clarity, conciseness, and engagement. Use strong verbs, relevant keywords, and compelling quotes to enhance the impact of your press release. Make it factual, but also fascinating!

Optimize for Impact and Reach

Simply including all the traditional elements in a press release doesn’t automatically make it powerful. Yes, press releases are somewhat standardized, but there’s a lot of room for creativity and interest if you know what you’re doing. To ensure your message reaches its full potential, understanding and implementing press release best practices is essential.

Effective Press Release Tips

To enhance the visibility and shareability of your press release, don’t forget to include these aspects of content creation:

  • Storytelling: Craft a narrative that captures readers’ attention and keeps them engaged. Use anecdotes, examples, and human interest elements to make your news relatable. Introduce a problem or challenge, present your solution or announcement as the resolution, and use descriptive language and vivid imagery to bring the story to life.
  • Visuals: Include high-quality images, videos, or infographics that complement your message and enhance the visual appeal of your press release. High-resolution product images, behind-the-scenes photos or videos, infographics summarizing key data, and headshots of relevant spokespeople can significantly boost engagement. (These visuals can also be highly effective on your own social media channels during distribution. The more visually compelling, the better!)
  • Keywords: Strategically incorporate relevant keywords throughout your press release to improve its visibility in search engines and media databases. But don’t overdo it! The most important aspect of the press release is that it’s compelling and that people are engaged enough to read it from start to finish.
  • Call to Action: Include a clear call to action, telling readers what you want them to do next. This should be near the bottom of the press release so that the piece doesn’t appear to be too sales-oriented from the outset. Examples include “Visit our website to learn more,” “Schedule a demo,” “Download our whitepaper,” or “Follow us on social media for updates.”

Distributing Your Press Release

You will, of course, post your press release to your company’s newsroom and social media, but there is more to maximizing impact than distributing it to owned media. In fact, effective distribution in pursuit of earned media is key to the success of your press release.

To achieve this, identify the media outlets, journalists, and bloggers most likely to be interested in your news. Research their past coverage, and tailor your pitch accordingly. Building relationships with journalists and media contacts before you need them can make a significant difference. Offer exclusive interviews, expert commentary, or behind-the-scenes access to make your press release stand out.

Most importantly, consider the news cycle and industry events when scheduling your press release. Aim for a time when your announcement is most likely to garner attention and coverage. Avoid major holidays or competing news events. If the budget allows, consider using a press release distribution service to expand your reach and increase the chances of your news being picked up by a wider audience.

There is a real art to pitching media, and it’s not for the faint of heart. While crafting a compelling angle and press release can be executed by anyone with strong writing skills, developing media relations is a craft best not attempted without the guidance of a pro. In fact, if not done correctly, pitching media can backfire and inadvertently burn bridges between your brand and critical media members. Use caution, and hire a professional!

Measuring Press Release Success

Once you’ve written and distributed your press release, it’s time to monitor—and measure—its success. Evaluate the effectiveness of your release by reviewing such metrics as media pickups, website traffic, and engagement rates. Monitor media placements, website traffic referrals from press release links, social media mentions, shares, sentiment, lead generation, and overall brand awareness and sentiment changes.

You should also analyze the data to identify which aspects of your press release were most successful and where there’s room for improvement. Compare the results to your initial goals, identify the most effective distribution channels, and analyze the language and content that resonated most with the audience. Use these insights to refine your future press release strategies and strive continuously for greater impact and reach.

COHN: Expertise in Press Releases for Nearly 25 Years

COHN specializes in crafting and distributing press releases that get noticed. With a proven track record of success over the last 24 years, our expert team at COHN offers services that include brand audits and assessments, brand strategy development, creative content creation, digital marketing campaigns, reputation management, and community engagement initiatives. Our expertise in connecting with target audiences and generating media coverage ensures that your press releases will achieve their desired outcomes.

For public relations and press release support that will actually move the needle, contact COHN to get started.

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