How To Write A Press Release: The 11-Step Guide [2021 Update]

Want to know 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 thousands of pieces of media coverage, the world over.

It’s the cornerstone of every successful public relations campaign[1] that we have run.

And it’s essential if you want to know how to write a media pitch[2] too.

Let’s get into it.

  1. What is a press release?[3]
  2. We’ve changed how press releases are written[4]
  3. What a press release is not[5]
  4. Why use a press release template?[6]
  5. Section 1: Date[7]
  6. Section 2: Headline[8]
  7. Section 3: The intro paragraph[9]
  8. Section 4: Paragraphs two and three[10]
  9. Section 5: The quotes[11]
  10. Section 6: Body copy – key messages[12]
  11. Section 7: The closing quote[13]
  12. Section 8: Closing paragraph[14]
  13. Section 9: ENDS[15]
  14. Section 10: Contact details[16]
  15. Section 11: Notes to Editor[17]
  16. Rookie Mistake 1: Spelling and grammar[18]
  17. Rookie Mistake 2: Overall length and formatting[19]
  18. Go forth and get media coverage[20]
  19. 9 steps to creating, formatting, pitching, and sharing your press release
    [21]

Once you understand the formula for all successful press releases you will start to see the results you’re after.

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[22].

But first, the essential foundation.

What Is A Press Release?

If you’re going to learn how to write a press release for your business, launch, event or crisis communication[23] you need to understand its real purpose – to show that you have a NEWS story.

This is at the heart of ALL public relations and public relations jobs.[24][25]

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 if you want media coverage.

We’ve changed how press releases are written

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 an error.

Please, don’t make your press release look like this …

news release This Will Not Get You Media Coverage

news release This Will Not Get You Media Coverage

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 – not now – 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[26], national media coverage and even form part of an influencer marketing[27] campaign – if you get it right.

What a press release is not

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[28]

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[29].

Remember, a journalist, blogger, influencer or anyone else from your target audience[30] wants to hear your story.

And that’s what a press release must be – a brilliant story about your business. That’s how you get free PR[31].

Even if you want to know how to write a press release for an event[32] – it must still contain a news story.

There are some great public relations examples[33] here that should give you an idea of what works, storywise, for all types of business.

The Press Release Template

A press release template has a very formulaic structure.

It consists of 11 sections.

To miss even one of them is to relegate your press release to the piles of ignored stories.

press release template example

press release template example

Following a proven system, which in this case is based on 20 years of working in media relations[34] and for Arc Seven Communications[35], 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.

Download Your Free Press Release Template


Let’s 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[36].

Vicki wanted to let the media know she was launching the world’s first wholegrain gluten-free flour.

The media loved it – Vicki landed coverage in MetroThe Huffington Post and many more here.[37][38][39]

Section 1: Send Date and Company Logo

company and date example for press release

company and date example for press release

The first section of any press release template might sound obvious but make sure you date your press release.

The date you are pitching it to the media is the date to use here.

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.

press release pro tip

press release pro tipWhen sending a press release out far in advance, make sure you use the word EMBARGOED followed by the date.

press release example of embargoed comment

press release example of embargoed comment

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.

Section 2: How to Write a Press Release Headline

Your attention grabbing headline[40] needs to include your news hook to get the journalist’s attention.

headline for press release template section

headline for press release template section
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 key points of the story – remember, think about what is ‘new’.

press release writing servicepress release writing service


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[42], ones that got great media coverage.

Section 3: The Intro Paragraph

Your headline grabbed the journalist’s attention but the intro is where you win them over, or lose them forever.

intro paragraph for press release

intro paragraph for press release
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.

Section 4: Paragraphs Two and Three

In paragraphs two and three of your press release you need to really develop the story by introducing key factual pieces of information and provide the journalist with the detail 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[44] online right now that can show you the type of information you need to include.

how to write a press release for a food business

how to write a press release for a food business
All paragraphs of your press release need to:

  • Have a natural flow so each paragraph logically leads on to the next
  • Avoid repetition between paragraphs
  • Avoid echoes throughout your press release
  • Quickly, but with detail, deliver a compelling story

Section 5: The Quotes

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.

quotes for the media

quotes for the media

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.

Section 6: Body Copy – Key Messages

Return to the main body of the press release now and include further factual detail and your key messages.

how to write a press release for small business

how to write a press release for small business

Your key messages can include:

  • When/where your product or service is available
  • The price of your product/service
  • Your website address
  • Technical information about your product/service

Don’t confuse these key messages with your main news hook – they are very 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 press release template, you give yourself the best chance.

Section 7: The Closing Quote

Start to bring your press release to a natural conclusion with a closing quote.

pr quotes and endorsements

pr quotes and endorsements

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.

Section 8: Closing Paragraph

Bring the press release to a neat conclusion with a closing endorsement.

final quote for press release template

final quote for press release template

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.

Section 9: ENDS

Here’s a strategy that will put you ahead of 98% of your competitors – always finish your press release with the word ‘ENDS’.

ends for press release template

ends for press release template

This is good journalistic practice and makes it clear to the journalist that the main body of the press release is complete.

Section 10: Contact details

contact info to include in press release

contact info to include in press release

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.

Section 11: Notes to Editors

Those in the industry refer to this section as the boilerplate[45].

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 communications[46] goals.

writing a press release notes to editors

writing a press release notes to editors

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

press release grammar and spelling

press release grammar and spelling

No excuses, spelling and grammar matter in a press release.

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 2021 there are no excuses for spelling things incorrectly.

pr length and formattingpr length and formatting

Keep your press release to two pages at absolute maximum – if possible get the body of the release on one page and include notes to editors and contact details on page two.

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.

press release formats and file typespress release formats and file types

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.

It’s Time to Write a Press Release

Now you know how to write a press release.

You are ready to create a newsworthy press release for your business – one that will deliver the media coverage you deserve.

Download Your Free Press Release Template

9 FAST TIPS ON PRESS RELEASE FORMAT, CREATION, PITCHING, AND SHARING

  1. Download our press release template and worksheet and follow the system.
  2. Find a strong news angle for your press release – awareness days[47] can sometimes work.
  3. Think which of the three main news story types you have? Is this business news, human interest news or events-based news?
  4. Put 90% of your creative energy into your headline and intro paragraph – this should be the essence of your story in its entirety.
  5. Be laser-like in your targeting of journalists – only go to those on your media list[48]. Using a PR tool such as Response Source[49] can help you out with this.
  6. Make your email pitch direct and to the point – or use one of these press release distribution[50] services.
  7. Chase – but not TOO much.
  8. Sit back and watch the media coverage come in (try using one of the best media monitoring services[51] to do that).
  9. And if you get invited for an interview make sure you read these media training[52] tips first.

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 long-lasting positive impact on your business.

And if you want to follow a press release format that is specific to YOUR business grab our Ultimate Press Release Template Kit[53].

You’ll get 10 real-life press release examples for every business and story type – from tech to fashion and professional services to charity.

press release writing servicepress release writing service

[41]

References

  1. ^ public relations campaign (class-pr.com)
  2. ^ how to write a media pitch (class-pr.com)
  3. ^ What is a press release? (class-pr.com)
  4. ^ We’ve changed how press releases are written (class-pr.com)
  5. ^ What a press release is not (class-pr.com)
  6. ^ Why use a press release template? (class-pr.com)
  7. ^ Section 1: Date (class-pr.com)
  8. ^ Section 2: Headline (class-pr.com)
  9. ^ Section 3: The intro paragraph (class-pr.com)
  10. ^ Section 4: Paragraphs two and three (class-pr.com)
  11. ^ Section 5: The quotes (class-pr.com)
  12. ^ Section 6: Body copy – key messages (class-pr.com)
  13. ^ Section 7: The closing quote (class-pr.com)
  14. ^ Section 8: Closing paragraph (class-pr.com)
  15. ^ Section 9: ENDS (class-pr.com)
  16. ^ Section 10: Contact details (class-pr.com)
  17. ^ Section 11: Notes to Editor (class-pr.com)
  18. ^ Rookie Mistake 1: Spelling and grammar (class-pr.com)
  19. ^ Rookie Mistake 2: Overall length and formatting (class-pr.com)
  20. ^ Go forth and get media coverage (class-pr.com)
  21. ^ 9 steps to creating, formatting, pitching, and sharing your press release (class-pr.com)
  22. ^ PR plan (class-pr.com)
  23. ^ crisis communication (class-pr.com)
  24. ^ public relations (class-pr.com)
  25. ^ public relations jobs. (class-pr.com)
  26. ^ how to get a story on the local news (class-pr.com)
  27. ^ influencer marketing (class-pr.com)
  28. ^ Anything else that sends a journalist to sleep (class-pr.com)
  29. ^ avoid making these mistakes (class-pr.com)
  30. ^ target audience (class-pr.com)
  31. ^ free PR (class-pr.com)
  32. ^ how to write a press release for an event (class-pr.com)
  33. ^ public relations examples (class-pr.com)
  34. ^ media relations (class-pr.com)
  35. ^ Arc Seven Communications (www.arcseven.co.uk)
  36. ^ The Free From Fairy (freefromfairy.com)
  37. ^ Metro (metro.co.uk)
  38. ^ The Huffington Post (www.huffingtonpost.co.uk)
  39. ^ here. (freefromfairy.com)
  40. ^ attention grabbing headline (class-pr.com)
  41. ^ journalists get more than 200 email pitches a day (class-pr.com)
  42. ^ examples of effective headlines (class-pr.com)
  43. ^ https://class-pr.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Emma-Sheppard.mp3 (k2r2g8z4.stackpathcdn.com)
  44. ^ feature story examples (class-pr.com)
  45. ^ boilerplate (class-pr.com)
  46. ^ marketing communications (class-pr.com)
  47. ^ awareness days (class-pr.com)
  48. ^ media list (class-pr.com)
  49. ^ Response Source (class-pr.com)
  50. ^ press release distribution (class-pr.com)
  51. ^ best media monitoring services (class-pr.com)
  52. ^ media training (class-pr.com)
  53. ^ Ultimate Press Release Template Kit (class-pr.com)

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