How to Write a Press Release That Journalists Won't Ignore

how to write a press release

Your marketing strategy might involve a mix of emails, social media, advertising, events, and other tactics, but one mention in the press can multiply all those efforts tenfold, sending a surge of new customers your way, and even take your business to the next level.

Want proof? A single story in The New York Times transformed Beardbrand from a blog for beardsmen into a major player in the men’s grooming product industry.

But how do you make that happen for your business? How do you attract the attention of your local news, let alone The New York Times? You can simply focus on your business and hope you catch a reporter’s eye, or you can speed the process along by writing a press release.

What is a press release?

A press release is a document that announces a newsworthy story about your brand that the media might want to cover and provides all of the pertinent information a reporter or editor would need.

Some outlets will share your news based solely on the press release. Other times, they’ll contact you to arrange an interview or use you as an expert source for another story. This is especially the case when you regularly send out press releases sharing newsworthy topics.

Simply saying, “Look at my business!” isn’t newsworthy. Announcements that are, however, include:

  • Launching a new business, product, or service
  • Holding a large contest or competition
  • Partnering with a charity, community organization, or celebrity
  • Hosting an event
  • Winning an award
  • Sharing a customer success story
  • Announcing a merger or acquisition
  • Rebranding your business
  • Promoting or hiring a new executive

A good way to gauge the newsworthiness of your story is to pay attention to coverage that other businesses receive.

Reporters look for stories that are timely, affect a large number of people, have an emotional element or relate to other news stories. You could also tap into what people are talking about, either in person or on social media. If your business has a connection to a bigger story, you may improve your chances of getting covered.

The benefits of writing a press release

In addition to catching the attention of the press, writing a press release provides several added benefits. First, it’s a cost-effective tool you can add to your marketing strategy, especially for startups that may have a limited budget. Since releases are posted online, you might draw prospective customers and backlinks to your site as well.

A well-written press release also helps you control your story. You can share what’s important to you and call attention to the value you offer. In case of a crisis, a press release offers you a chance to respond to a story with your own. And distributing your press release through a service can boost your web traffic and SEO.

Another benefit is the option to share your press releases on the “news” or “press” page of your website. This can help establish you as an expert in your field. When a reporter visits your site and finds press releases available, you come across more professional and save the reporter time by making pertinent information accessible.

How to write an attention-grabbing press release

Press releases follow a consistent format that makes it easy for reporters and editors to find the information they need. It’s important to stick to the press release format to help reporters decide to cover your story.

Here are seven steps to write an effective press release:

  1. Find a newsworthy angle: Even a well-written press release will fail if the story it's telling wouldn't be interesting to a journalist's readers.
  2. Craft an appealing headline: Use the main benefit from your press release to write a headline that is both clear and compelling.
  3. Summarize your story in your subtitle: Summarize the entire content of the press release in a single sentence that supports the heading and gives a taste of the content to follow.
  4. Introduce essential information: Before the first paragraph, state your company’s city and state, followed by the date. Then your opening paragraph should answer the questions, "who", “what”, "when", "where", and “why” in a way that gets the reporter’s interest.
  5. Provide supporting information and context: Add weight to the release with testimonials, statistics, research details, and case study excerpts. This is also the place to include a quote from the main subjects involved in the news.
  6. Lead into the reader's next steps: Summarize the article and include a call to action or details of where more information on the subject matter could be found.
  7. End with your boilerplate: Provide a brief background and overview of the company. Include contact information.

At the bottom of the press release, it is common to include three "###" symbols to signify the end.

As we stated before, a release should offer something newsworthy, but it also helps to make the writing interesting.

Start with a strong headline that conveys the value of your news to the press. The headline should be catchy but also easy to understand. Professional writers often spend as much time on the headline as they do writing an article. If you need inspiration, review your favorite blogs and online news sources and pay attention to the headlines that make you want to click to the story.

In the first paragraph, immediately tell reporters why they should share your announcement by explaining why their readers care. Share a startling statistic, counterintuitive fact or innovative development. Then use supporting paragraphs to bring your release to life, with details and colorful quotes. Simply stating facts or sounding self-congratulatory won’t do.

Complete your release with a strong but succinct boilerplate. Clearly explain what your company does and why its stakeholders are experts in the industry. And don’t forget to include contact information. A release won’t go anywhere if a reporter can’t easily contact the stakeholder or his or her representative.

A press release template you can use

To help you get started, we put together this template to help you structure your story using a common press release format. You can replace each component with your own information and adapt it according to your needs.

[Headline that announces the story and captures attention]

[Subtitle that quickly summarizes your story]

[CITY, Month Day, Year]—[Company Name, Company Description], announced today [The who, what, when, where, and, why of your story].

[Share past milestones, events, stats, research, and additional context a journalist might want. Use multiple paragraphs and bullet points if you need to]

[Incorporate some quotes from the main subjects/experts involved in your story]

[Emphasize once more what makes this story newsworthy]

[End with more information about your company, how to learn more, and get in touch for more information.]

###

Make a copy

Press release examples you can learn from

Below is a press release example from Bulletproof, announcing a new product line.

As you read it, note their use of attention-grabbing statistics, action words and clear benefits. The use of bulleted information makes the release easy to scan and read for reporters. The boilerplate also includes more resources for reporters as well as social media information. It ends with the name, phone number and email for the company’s media contact.

Bulletproof Releases Cold Brew Line of Ready-To-Drink Bulletproof Coffee

After selling more than 100 million cups of its signature brew, convenient, pre-made version now available at Whole Foods stores nationwide

SEATTLE, Sept. 6, 2017 -- Bulletproof 360, Inc., creators of Bulletproof ® coffee and other high-performance food and nutrition products, announced today the largest product launch in company history with the release of Bulletproof Coffee Cold Brew. The new grab-and-go version of the signature coffee is available in four flavors and made with Bulletproof coffee beans, Brain Octane® oil and grass-fed butter, delivering a convenient and delicious coffee drink with the same benefits Bulletproof fans have come to love, including sustained energy and mental focus, all without sugar or chemicals.

To date, more than 100 million cups of the brand's original recipe for Bulletproof Coffee have been consumed by people all over the country. The new on-the-go version provides sustainable energy from high-quality fats rather than sugar, allowing people to boost their performance anywhere—from the gym, to carpool duty or in the boardroom. Bulletproof Coffee Cold Brew is the newest innovation from the company that will allow people to conveniently take steps toward achieving their goals and unleashing their full potential.

After years of research, development, and testing, Bulletproof Coffee Cold Brew is currently rolling out at Whole Foods locations nationwide this month and can also be ordered online at bulletproof.com.

Bulletproof Coffee Cold Brew Details:

  • Key ingredients include cold brew coffee made with Bulletproof beans, Brain Octane oil (a powerful energy source extracted from the most potent part of the coconut), and grass-fed butter
  • Made with Bulletproof clean coffee beans that are certified to be free of 27 toxins
  • Available in four flavors – Original, Vanilla, Mocha, Original + Collagen Protein (13g of protein)
  • Sugar-free and no refrigeration required

Nutrition facts:

  • Original: 140 calories, 0g sugar
  • Vanilla: 190 calories, 0g sugar
  • Mocha: 220 calories, 0g sugar
  • Original + Collagen Protein: 230 calories, 0g sugar, 13g protein

"It is with great happiness and genuine excitement that we announce the release of Bulletproof Coffee Cold Brew," said Dave Asprey, CEO and founder of Bulletproof. "When you don't have time to spare but want to take a step towards a sharper, stronger self, this new ready-to-drink cold brew version offers the same results as Bulletproof coffee in a pre-made, ready to enjoy beverage."

This announcement comes on the heels of $19 million in Series B funding led by CAVU Venture Partners and Trinity Ventures that closed in May 2017.

About Bulletproof 360, Inc.

Founded by biohacker, bestselling author, and Bulletproof coffee creator Dave Asprey, Bulletproof 360 is dedicated to providing the world with groundbreaking, science-based information, techniques, tools and products to help people perform better, increase focus, enhance energy, and live longer. Resources include #1 ranked podcast Bulletproof Radio, the New York Times bestselling books THE BULLETPROOF DIET and HEAD STRONG, documentary feature film MOLDY, The Bulletproof Executive blog, and more. Twitter: @bpnutrition Instagram:@bulletproofcoffee https://www.bulletproof.com/

For more inspiration, here are three other examples of effective press releases:

How to submit and distribute your press release

Once you’ve written a press release, it’s time to send it out. You have a few options for distribution.

First, you can make a list of the media outlets whose readers and viewers would be most interested in your news, and send your release directly to them via email. You can find their emails with a quick internet search: [reporter name] + [news outlet] + email address.

If that doesn’t produce results, use a tool like Hunter that will provide an email formula for an outlet. Or simply connect with them on Twitter or LinkedIn.

You can also distribute your release using an online service, such as:

These companies send your release to journalists based on their specific interests, as well as publish it on their website where it can be found. Each service offers a variety of options, and costs can vary greatly, ranging from $69 to a few thousand dollars.

Another option is to hire a public relations professional who can write and distribute a press release for you. These professionals often have existing relationships with the press and may be able to facilitate placement easier.

If your news is time-sensitive, such as an event or announcement, send it to reporters a few days beforehand so they have time to craft their story. If you want news outlets to hold off on publishing until a specific date, release it “under embargo,” which simply means reporters can’t share the information until the time you specify.

Generate buzz with a press release

While a press release doesn’t guarantee coverage, it can be an effective marketing tool. By sending out releases with a regular cadence, you start to build up brand recognition with members of the media.

You never know when they might be looking for a source in your industry, remember your company and reach out for an interview. By sharing newsworthy information, you become a thought leader in your field.

Successful publicity depends on sustained effort. If you do get coverage, keep the buzz going by sharing those stories on social media. Mention previous coverage in the boilerplate of your next press release. Press often follows press, and once you get your first mention, you might find it easier to get a second, third, and so on.