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 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
- 9 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’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.
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 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.
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.
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 …
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, national media coverage and even form part of an influencer marketing 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
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 from your target audience 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.
Even if you want to know how to write a press release for an event – it must still contain a news story.
There are some great public relations examples 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.
Following a proven system, which in this case is based on 20 years of working in media relations and for Arc Seven Communications, 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.
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 Metro, The Huffington Post and many more here.
Section 1: Send Date and Company Logo
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.
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.
Section 2: How to Write a Press Release Headline
Your attention grabbing headline needs to include your news hook to get the journalist’s attention.
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’.
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.
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.
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.