PR Problem Solvers Q&A
Question: How do I write a press release?
I’ve been asked to write a press release for my company’s new product launch. Help–I haven’t written a release before. What are the basic questions that I should ask my marketing team in order to write a press release? Do you have a template for writing a press release I can use?
Help Me Write a Release
Dear Help Me Write a Release:
Before you start writing the press release, identify the key strategic message that your release needs to articulate. Then, create the secondary messages for this release. Make sure you have sign-off on these messages from the marketing team before you spend time writing the press release. (You all need to be on the same page, right?)
The rule of thumb for writing a press release is the inverted triangle–put the most important information about your new product at the beginning of the release in the lead paragraph. Then, you add in other pieces of information, in order of priority after that. Think of the traditional “who, what, when, where, why” approach to get started.
The lead paragraph should talk about the news of your product launch. What is being announced? Why is this announcement significant? Sum up in one or two sentences the main message you want this announcement to convey to the press and their readers.
Write a quote from your company president or vice president of marketing. Avoid writing a quote that says “we are excited to announce the launch of our xyz product” because that doesn’t add anything new to the story. Instead, talk about what this product will mean to customers. What is the WHY behind the product or technology development? How does this fit into your company’s overall strategy? Pro tip: do not use corporate jargon or “marketing-speak.” That’s a turnoff for editors.
You may also include a quote from a third-party reference such as a market research analyst or a customer quote. These quotes support your claims stated in the release. Not every press release warrants this.
Body of Press Release
In the body of the press release, talk about the problem that your company’s new product solves for the users or the industry. What is the context for this news?
Describe the new product. What are the significant features and or differentiators of the product/technology? How do these features transfer into customer/industry benefits? What is your unique value-add by making this product/technology available? Include details of the announcement: new features, enhancements, new markets, customer requirements, etc. Explain how these details fit with the company’s vision and overall corporate objectives.
Then, add in the final details of price, availability, a link to the product webpage or any other call to action.
The last paragraph should be the company boilerplate. This is a description of the company that provides editors with basic information on the company–when it was founded, where it is located, the company’s unique approach to the market and technology, the types of customers you have, and the website. Add in the press contact information so editors know who to contact if they have questions.
Photos and Images
Do you have photos, images or videos for the new product? Include a link to a Dropbox or Google Docs file for editors. Remember the editors are always looking for artwork to include with stories. And, having good images increases the likelihood of getting your release used.
Write your headline last–it’s easier to create then! Once you’ve written the body of the press release, then you can write the headline. It is much easier to create a punchy headline AFTER you’ve done the work of putting the most important information at the beginning of the release. Keep it short and sweet. You can also use a subhead under the headline.
[bctt tweet=”Write the headline last–it’s easier to create a punchy headline AFTER you’ve done the work of putting the most important information at the beginning of the release. ” username=”MartellComm”]
And, you will find that creating your social media posts for the new product launch are easier after you’ve written the press release as well! Don’t forget to create a post using your president’s quote!
Internal Company Blog Post
Now that you’ve written a draft of the press release, don’t forget to write a blog post for the company blog. You can publish the blog on the same day as the press release goes live. This should be different than the press release. Write the post telling readers about the inside story of the new product launch. What was the company motivation for this? What was the journey like to create this product? The blog post is your opportunity to tout the company’s horn and, you can be more blatant in telling your customers and industry what makes the new product so newsworthy.
Be cautious about adding in too many links in your press release. How many is too many? According to Cision’s customer content services team, they recommend “three links per 1000 words, not counting boilerplate links and contact information. Too many links can result in search engines flagging your news as SPAM.” What’s the bottom line? Use links sparingly!
Optimizing for search engines is key for press releases. Develop your keywords for your news announcement. Online tools like Google Webmaster Tools and Moz are tools that help with keyword research. Write sentences in a natural language and don’t overuse keywords. Google rewards high-quality content with higher search results.
Who needs to review and sign off on the press release?
What is the proposed release date?
Templates for Writing Releases
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