When something important happens in your business, it's common to write a blog post, share the news on social media, and even spread the word through email. These are great, but one thing businesses often forget is the press release.
Press releases can amplify your reach, generate leads, and even build connections with influential media outlets.
That is, if you do it right.
In this guide, we're sharing how to write the perfect press release. This includes:
- The seven essentials for any press release.
- How to write a press release for four different scenarios.
- Free press release templates to help you get started.
Let's dive in so you can write a press release that gets picked up and spreads the word about your business.
How to write a good press release
When you’re putting in the time to write a press release, you want to make sure it’s effective and the results are worth your team. Here’s how to write a solid press release that includes all the information you’ll need:
1. Start with an attention-grabbing title
You want people to write or tweet about your announcement to generate press and buzz for your business. That starts with reading your press release. And that, my friends, starts with your headline.Make sure you clearly summarize the announcement with a strong, descriptive verb. Take a look at this press release example from Ace Hardware:
The headline reads:
Ace Hardware Reveals Top Grills and Grilling Accessories for Holiday Gifts this Season
“Reveals” implies both that the items have been under wraps and that the public has been awaiting this announcement. Also, “for Holiday Gifts this Season” explains the purpose of the press release and draws the reader in.
Plus, it’s short and sweet—which is key. Cision, a press release software, analyzed more than 40,000 press releases from 2020 and found that the ideal length for a press release headline is 70-90 characters.
2. State the announcement & its significance in your intro
As with any news article, the introduction of your press release needs to answer all five W's right off the bat: who, what, where, when, and why it matters. Take the introduction in the MasterClass press release example below.
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — MasterClass, the streaming platform where anyone can learn from the world's best across a wide range of subjects, today announced that Yo-Yo Ma will teach a class on music and connection. Sharing philosophies that he's developed alongside stories from his legendary career, Ma unpacks how to better collaborate, connect with art in new ways, and expand relationships through music. Ma's class is now available exclusively on MasterClass, where subscribers get unlimited access to all 100+ instructors with an annual membership.
If I only read the introduction to this press release, I have all the information I need.
- Where: San Fransisco
- When: October 21, 2021
- Who: MasterClass, an online learning streaming platform.
- What: Announced that Yo-Yo Ma will teach a class on music and connection.
- Why it matters: A musician with a legendary career will be sharing his philosophies with subscribers.
This introduction does a great job fitting in the description of the company, the impact, the new class, Yo-Yo Ma, and even a soft sell direction for more information. Well done.
3. Expand on why this announcement matters in the body
When you get to the body of your press release, use this space to give your readers more information. This is the ideal place to incorporate quotes from experts or images to make the content more engaging. In the body of the MasterClass press release is a photo of Yo-Yo Ma and a reaction from the founder and CEO of MasterClass.
The photo is great for encouraging readers to stay on the page longer, but the quote here is even better. Rogier explains what the class offers students and why this is a significant release for the MasterClass community.
That’s exactly what you want to do in the body of your press release—give the information on what’s happening and why it matters for your company and your audience.
4. Stick to a formal, authoritative tone
You want your press release to grab attention and keep your audience engaged, but it’s important to remember that this is a statement on behalf of your business to the general public. It isn’t a blog post from your CEO or a whitepaper supporting a product launch. It’s the company’s official announcement, so it needs to have a formal, authoritative tone.
You can certainly write a blog post supporting that news in a more conversational and subjective manner, but the press release itself should be informative and objective.
5. Use active voice
Active voice is more appealing and clear in any good writing, but it’s especially important in press releases. You’re trying to convey information about a company to the public, and you need to effectively share who did what. Active voice occurs when your subject performs your verb (e.g., I wrote the press release), as opposed to passive voice where the subject receives the verb (e.g., The press release was written by me). Active voice is the best way to share who did what.
It also turns out that it’s the best way to get traffic. Cision even found that press releases with active verbs in headlines got more views than their passively constructed counterparts.
Writing in active voice will make your press releases stronger and clearer—and this is good when there’s no room for confusion.
6. Be concise
Your press release doesn’t need to be long—in fact, it shouldn’t be. The goal of this content is to make a formal, public announcement. That means your ideal length is simply how long it takes to explain your announcement and its significance.
In fact, Cision found that the majority of press releases on its platform in 2020 were 400 words or less, and overall the average length was 686 words. The company also found that after a certain point, the longer the press release got, the shorter time people spent reading. You can learn how to write concise copy here.
TL;DR: Try to stick to 500 words or so in your press releases. (Image source)
7. Give the reader an action to take
If your ideal reader finishes your press release and wants more information, you need to make it clear where they should go. Otherwise, you’ll lose the opportunity to engage the reader or convert a potential customer. Not the outcome you want after you spend your time and effort writing a press release.
So include follow up instructions at the end of your press release. This will likely vary with the content of your release—it could be a well-written landing page to sign up for a trial for your product being released or directions to attend the event you're promoting.
Take this example from Smith College’s press release about replacing loans with grants.
Additional information about the financial aid initiatives Smith announced today is available in an online FAQ.
This makes it easy for anyone interested to click to the FAQs and get all the information they need about the announcement and how it could impact them.
Okay, now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk about what you want to pay attention to when you’re drafting some common press releases.
How to write a press release for an event
A press release is a great way to supplement your event marketing strategy. By releasing an official statement, you can alert the media to all of the relevant details in one easy document. This is great for two reasons:
First, media coverage will help get the word to any interested attendees. Second, it’ll increase the chances of getting your event covered, as well. It’s great to have your upcoming event get press—it’s even better to have the impact of your event written up, too.
When you’re writing a press release for your next event, be sure to:
- Share who the event is for. Who is your ideal audience? This might seem awkward, but you should explicitly state this since it’s not always clear. For example, your company’s baking competition could be for anyone over 14 or it could be for local pastry chefs in the area. There’s a huge difference there, so err on the side of caution. (Plus, you don't want to have to turn away an aspiring 14-year-old who shows up with spatula in hand at your door.)
- Explain the significance of the event. Why does your event matter for your company and your community? If you’re hosting that baking competition to find the next best pastry chef in your city, that’s significant. If it’s the fifth year you’re hosting and other winners have gone on to open their own businesses, that’s also worth mentioning.
- Include registration or ticketing details. How can someone attend your event? Make sure the end of your press release includes whether tickets are for sale or free, whether registration is required or not, as well as key information about deadlines and event dates.
How to write a press release for a product
When you’re launching a new product, you want customers and brand advocates engaging on social media, industry writers mentioning the updates, and any other buzz you can get. Writing and distributing a press release will help with that.
When you’re writing a press release for your new product:
- Share an overview of the product. What is your new product? In the body of your press release, outline what your new product is, what it does, and how to get it.
- Stress the benefits. How does your product help? This isn’t product copy, but you still want to focus more on benefits than features. By doing this, you’ll also help make it clear who your new product is for—key information to include in your release.
- Describe how it fits with your business. Why this new product? Explain how the product fits your company’s mission, compares to your other offerings, and/or serves your current customers.
How to write a press release for a new business
A press release when you’re launching your business is a tried-and-true way of generating buzz—even when you don’t necessarily have the industry following or the connections that established businesses might.
In the press release for your launch, be sure to:
- Explain your purpose and your goals. Why does your company exist? Sharing your goals and purpose in your launches helps generate more press than explaining what your business does. Your story is always going to be more compelling, so make sure to use it. This is a perfect way to start introducing your brand.
- Share any funding details. If you raised any pre-seed funding rounds, be sure to include that in your press release—especially if you have any backers from the industry you’re working in or with their own following.
- Include a CTA. Do you want people to sign up for your beta? Follow your progress on social? Go to your website? Whatever it is, include that call to action in your press release. You’re just starting out so if you get eyes on your brand, you want to keep them.
How to write a press release for an award
Winning an award is exciting! You want people in your network and companies in your industry to know when your business or members of your team have been recognized for their hard work and achievements. A press release is a great way for getting the word out soon. Even in the long term, it can be good to make this information public so that potential new hires, new partnerships, or even new customers can review your accolades. This establishes your business as an authority and encourages trust.
When writing a press release about an award, be sure to:
- Explain why the award is significant. Why is this award worthy of a press release? If it’s recognition for an exceptional leader, say so. If it’s a culmination of your company’s hard work, include that. If it’s rare for a company of your size to win, include that. These details will make the story more compelling.
- Include a quote from someone on your team. Winning an award is an exciting achievement, and including a reaction from your team helps convey that you’re treating it that way. Make sure the quote is from someone related to the win.
- Share what’s next for your team. What will you do with this momentum? Writing a press release for an award is an excellent opportunity to share what your company’s plans for bigger and better are—use it.
More press release templates
If you're looking to write a press on something other than the four scenarios mentioned above, here are some additional resources:
- Jotform's 12 press release templates for books, concerts, new hires, nonprofits, and more.
- Smartsheet's seven press release templates for business news, social media, email, and more.
- Template Lab's 46 press release templates for website launch, vendors, survey results, and more.
Use these press release templates & tips to generate buzz for your biz
That was a lot! The good news is, you don’t have to write all of this now. Give yourself a headstart for some common press releases and be sure to bookmark these templates to use whenever you need them. And to recap, here are the seven steps you want to follow to write an effective press release, regardless of the topic:
- Start with an attention-grabbing headline
- State the announcement and its significance in your intro
- Expand on why this announcement matters in the body
- Stick to a formal, authoritative tone
- Use active voice
- Be concise
- Include follow up