When it comes to content, sometimes old school can be a good thing (namely, when it comes to old-school rap or Throwback Thursday on Instagram). But when it comes to your company’s public relations strategy, being old school isn’t advantageous for your business or your brand.
Ten years ago, people still relied on morning papers for news. Today, the vast majority of your company’s customers and prospects scan headlines on Twitter or see what’s trending in their Facebook feed.
People now have control over where, when, and how they consume information. As a result, public relations is no longer about feeding into a traditional news cycle; it’s about providing relevant content when, where, and how your prospects, influencers, and customers will consume it.
Sounds pretty hopeless, right? Wrong. While relationship-building still helps you get into popular publications, we now have the opportunity to quit playing the waiting game and generate our own buzz. By turning your PR strategy into an inbound one, you create opportunities that weren’t there before and carve out a place for your company, building meaningful mindshare with your target audiences in the process.
One of the most crucial updates to make to your PR strategy is to think of opportunities to connect to the audiences you care about — including, but not limited to, reporters. And that starts with press releases. In this post, we’ll discuss:
What Is a Press Release / News Release?
A regular cadence of meaningful news can help a company stand out and build mindshare with journalists over time. That’s where the press release (or news announcement) comes in.
A press release is an official announcement (written or recorded) that an organization issues to the news media and beyond. Whether we call it a “press release,” a “press statement,” a “news release,” or a “media release,” we’re always talking about the same basic thing.
While the heading should contain action verbs, the first paragraph should answer the “who,” “what,” “why,” and “where.” The press release should also contain understandable language and a quote.
Most press releases are succinct at just a page long — two pages, tops. Ultimately, companies want to provide enough information so that news outlets have sufficient material for publishing their own stories about whatever the company is announcing in the release.
And while it may be tempting to craft a press release that embellishes your company’s accomplishments or twists the facts to make a story sound more intriguing to the media, remember: Press releases live in the public domain, which means your customers and prospective customers can see them. So instead of thinking of a press release solely as a ticket to earning news coverage, you should also think of it as a valuable piece of marketing content.
While there’s no cut-and-dried formula for what a press release should include, here are a few types of occasions to help you carve out a focus for your press release and determine what content would help you broadcast your news in the best way:
Types of Press Releases
- New Product Launches
- Mergers and Acquisitions
- Product Updates
- Grand Openings
- New Partnerships
- Executive Promotions/Hiring
New Product Launches
The product launch type of press release is valuable to get the word out about the new solutions your organization is offering to consumers. This release will emphasize the product’s specs, pricing, availability, and any other details that may be valuable to consumers.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Organizational change is noteworthy enough to warrant a press release, especially for informing current and future stakeholders about the growth and trajectory of a company. To announce an acquisition or merger, include details about all organizations involved, information about the merger or acquisition, and quotes from the leadership teams.
Similar to a new product launch, product updates and expansions are also ripe for promotion. Explain what the change is, why it was made, and how it benefits the user.
Press releases are an important component of event marketing to attract promotion from news outlets and other media sources. You’ll want to include what the event is about, who should consider attending, when and where it will be held, pricing, and any other necessary details.
Whether you opened up a new office, relocated, or are opening for the first time, announce the details with a grand opening press release. Announce the date and location the grand opening will be held, who is involved, how the grand opening is being celebrated, and the reason for the move (if applicable).
Similar to mergers and acquisitions, a press release announcing new partnerships is a mutually beneficial marketing tactic. To effectively execute this type of release, be sure to write a summary about each company, why the partnership was created, who benefits, and any additional important details for current and future stakeholders.
Rebranding is a difficult thing for any business to do, and it can occasionally result in confusion and awkwardness. One way to make the transition smoother is by announcing the rebrand with a press release, including details on what is changing, the reason for making the change, dates the changes go into effect, and quotes from the leadership team.
Executives often serve as faces of the company, and a press release functions to kick off this role. It may include biographical information to establish their credibility along with a photo and other pertinent details.
When it comes to business excellence, it’s okay to brag. Press releases about awards and accomplishments serve to cement your organization as an authority in your space. Such a press release includes information about the company and why they were given the award, information about the award itself, and details about the ceremony (if applicable).
Sample Press Release Format
When formatting a press-release, you want to write it in a newsy, straightforward way so a journalist who might write about it can imagine it as an article on their news site.
Press Release Format
- Title and Italicized Subheading to Summarize the News
- News Location and newspeg in opening line
- Two to Three Paragraphs to Add Information
- Bulleted Facts or Figures
- Company Description at Bottom
- Contact Information and “For Immediate Release” at the Top
- A “###” at the End
As noted above, you’ll want your format to include traditional press-release items like your contact information, the words “For immediate release,” a note about your location, and a quick bio about your company. Having specific spots for those elements will prevent you from needing to mention it in your body copy so you can focus on discussing the news at hand.
You also might want to include “###” or another signifier to show the journalist that the release has ended. In the past, this prevented busy journalists from waiting or flipping the page for more information when there was no more news. However, this tradition is still adopted and highly-respected today.
In this example, Catbrella Inc., a fictitious ad agency which just gained its 10th Twitter follower after two years of paid social media efforts, announces its achievement in a press release.
*Disclaimer: HubSpot is entirely responsible for the silliness of this faux announcement.
Writing a press release to break important company news can help businesses grow better, but doing it right is just as important. Here’s how to write a press release, like the one above, step-by-step.
Rule 1: Make your headline irresistible.
Use action verbs, clear, understandable language, and keep your headline simple and short — fortune (and search engines) reward the brief, so keep your title to one line to clearly focus people’s attention on your topline message.
Most importantly, make it interesting: Keep in mind that reporters get dozens, if not hundreds, of releases each day, so invest the time to write a compelling headline. It’s worth the time and effort on your part.
Rule 2: Convey the news value to the press.
The first paragraph of your release should cover the who, what, why, where, and how of your new launch, update, or development. Reporters don’t have a ton of time to sift through details and fluffy background information — they just need the facts that’ll help them tell your story to someone else from a position of authority.
There shouldn’t be any new, crucial information covered after this section that the reader could potentially miss. A good way to ensure this is by using the reverse pyramid formula when writing your press release. 
Rule 3: Offer a tempting quote.
Ideally, quotes will be from key stakeholders in your company including your executive team, project leads, or those directly impacted by your announcement. Quoting key figures and authorities underlines the importance of your development. The chosen quote should shape your narrative and emphasize the core of the announcement. Don’t ask everyone in your office for a comment or feel compelled to quote all 25 people included in the acquisition — pick one or two critical spokespeople and focus the quotes around their unique perspective.
Rule 4: Provide valuable background information on the subject.
It can be tempting to provide superfluous facts and tidbits about your company or the development of your announcement — we sometimes think a piece of writing is lacking if it isn’t drawn-out and just shy of being a novella. However, a press release needs to be helpful and concise.
Offer details here that strengthen your narrative, like creative or noteworthy ways your company developed the project or announcement at hand. Or, when applicable, comment on future implications of your announcement.
Another good way to add value to your press release is by using newsjacking. A process of relating your press release to something currently going on to make it more valuable to the journalist and reader.