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What is a press release?


Dave Manzer
What is a press release?

What is a press release?

A press release is an announcement sent to the news media by an organization to inform the public of something important. Companies will send out press releases regarding anything from a new product launch to its attendance at an upcoming trade show. Other newsworthy announcements include a recent milestone, a business anniversary or an industry award. Press releases are a great way to get buzz around a new development at your company, but they should only be used when there’s actually something to announce. (Check this helpful article on what is newsworthy for tech companies.)

Who do you send a release to?

As we stated earlier, press releases should be sent to the media. In order for your announcement to reach as many people as possible, it’s important to send your press release to as many relevant news outlets as you can. 

If you’re working with a PR agency, they already have a database of media contacts at the ready and will send the press releases out on your company’s behalf to the most appropriate ones. 

But, if you don’t yet have the budget to hire an agency, you can take the DIY route and send press releases yourself. And it’s okay if you don’t have a wealth of writers and editors in your contacts–a simple Google search can usually do the trick. 

If you’re sending out a press release for your own company, then start by figuring out the best media outlets to share the news with. Say you’re a local business in Santa Rosa, California that specializes in gourmet olive oil and cheese, then it’s a good idea to share the release with all local outlets in your area that cover food, restaurants and retail. For national coverage, only send the release to relevant outlets who cover your industry or type of business. Once you determine which media outlets are best, do a little digging to find the best contact to send the press release to (often a specific journalist, editor or producer). 

How to write a press release

The point of a press release is to share information that will convince the media to cover whatever your announcement is about. Start by writing an attention-grabbing headline. Keep in mind that the media receives hundreds of emails a day, so it’s crucial to write a headline that both sums up the announcement while also making it interesting enough to grab their attention. 

After the headline, the rest of the release should be written in a standard journalism style; the important information should go at the top. Start your first paragraph with the who, what, when, where, and why. This paragraph should give the media everything they need to know. The rest of the release should be supporting information like backstory or quotes from the CEO, founder, etc. Keep in mind that press releases are focused more on news and information, so try to stay away from fluff or unnecessary embellishments.  

As far as formatting goes, there are tons of templates and examples online that can give you a visual of what a press release looks like and where to include details like contact information. 

For a deeper dive on how to write a press release, please visit another PR over Coffee article entitled “The Anatomy of a Press Release.” It’s an oldie but a goodie!

About Dave Manzer: Dave is founder and managing principal at Swyft, which has been listed as one of the best PR firms in Austin and a top digital marketing agency in Denver since its founding in 2011. Swyft has satellite offices where it offers PR in San Francisco and Houston.

 

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