How To Write a Press Release for Any Occasion (with templates and examples)


Press release (noun): A news release is a written statement about a matter of public interest which is given to the press by an organization concerned with the matter.


press release

Ahh the press release. Perhaps one of the industry’s most iconic tools. For over 100 years, the press release has been used by public relations professionals to provide accurate, from-the-source, noteworthy information to the media and public. And while the method of distribution may have changed over the years, the bones of the humble press release have remained remarkably consistent.

A brief recap…

For the uninitiated, the textbook definition of a press release (aka news release, media release, press statement etc.) looks like this:

Press release (noun): A news release[1] is a written statement about a matter of public interest which is given to the press by an organization concerned with the matter.

Ironically, the broad nature of this definition can sometimes lead to confusion (and it should be noted that not all press releases are “written statements”, video press releases[2] exist as well). To bring the textbook definition down to earth a little bit, a press release is:

  • An official statement prepared by an organization;
  • Sent to the media with the goal of convincing journalists to publish a story based on the information in the release;
  • A message meant to be shared widely with stakeholders and the public;

And why has this particular PR tool withstood the test of time? Because despite its basic nature, press releases continue to give PR practitioners the opportunity to:

  • Tell the story their way;
  • Present the facts;
  • Distribute news quickly and cost-effectively;
  • Secure media coverage and publicity;
  • Expose the brand and message to a wider audience;

All using one piece of content.

So how does it all work?

Press Release Lifecycle

For a press release to do its job, it will typically go through the following stages:

Write

Fairly self-explanatory, writing the press release is step #1. Download our Anatomy of a Press Release Guide and Template[3] to learn exactly how to write an amazing press release, including;

  • Detailed breakdown of press release components
  • Basic press release layout
  • Tips and tricks on writing an effective press release
  • A press release template worksheet – Simply plug your information into this pre-formatted, customizable template and voila! Instant press release.

Distribution

Once the press release is written, it needs to be distributed. This can be done in multiple ways.

1) Targeted Media Pitches

  • Send the press release to targeted journalists along with a personalized pitch to encourage them to read the release and turn the information into a published news story. This can be done by researching contacts individually, or with the help of a media database[4].

2) Wire Services

  • News wire services[5] distribute their clients’ press releases to a large, broad network of journalists. Similar to a job board, the wire provides a platform where press releases can be posted and then found by any journalist checking the wire that day for a story idea.

3) Social Media and Owned Channels

  • Organizations will often also post their press releases on social media channels (i.e. Twitter, Facebook) and send them to their internal distribution lists (i.e. email newsletters).

Depending on your goals, you can use any combination of these distribution methods. Whatever you choose, once your release is out here, it’ll be up to you to do any necessary follow-up with the media. Ideally, you’ll be busy responding to journalist requests, or eagerly engaging in some media monitoring[6] to track the coverage your release scores!

Post

Once the press release is distributed, it is usually given a permanent place to “live” online where it can be accessed in the future by journalists, stakeholders, or anybody else looking for information. Many organizations have a “Media” or “News” section of their website where all their releases are posted. If a company wants to support their distribution and SEO efforts, or they don’t have the resources to post to their own website, they may also decide to post their release to an external newsroom[7].

newsroom example

Agility PR Solutions’ newsroom.

Types of Press Releases

Now that we’ve covered the basic logistics of a press release, you may be wondering: when should I write and share a press release?

Organizations can use press releases to communicate all kinds of messages, but generally, they’ll fall into one of several categories. Browse through this section to get a feel for some of the most common press releases, along with specific examples to get familiar with the content and style of each. Then, download our Anatomy of a Press Release Guide and Template to create your own[8].

Breaking News

This is anything the organization wants (or needs) to formally announce to the public. Whether it’s news that will boost their brand reputation, provide practical information to stakeholders, or introduce the public to a new initiative, these press releases provide all the basic information needed to help journalists break the story and keep organizations transparent.

Canada legalizes cannabis[9] – Government of Canada, 2018

Lancaster University helps students with albinism in Tanzania[10] – Lancaster University, 2018

Crisis Communications

When a crisis strikes[11], it’s important to be open, honest, and ahead of the story. Organizations can use press releases as part of a crisis management strategy to clarify the facts, apologize, and/or emphasize the actions they have taken in the aftermath. Many organizations will also issue a statement to support these efforts.

A statement is not the same thing as a press release. Statements are reactionary, immediate, and do not follow a particular format. Think of a quick “We know this happened, we are sorry, we are working on it” from a company’s CEO. Many companies will use a two-pronged approach by issuing a statement to apologize and address the situation immediately, followed by a press release to focus entirely on how the company is moving forward. (See the Starbucks example, issued after this incident[12]).

1 2 3

Share