What Is a Press Release / News Release?

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Press Releases and Their Purpose

What Is a Press Release / News Release?

If you're thinking about public relations strategy for your business, you'll certainly be considering press releases. A press release is a written communication that reports specific but brief information about an event, circumstance, product launch, or other happening. It's typically tied to a business or organization and provided to media through a variety of means. 

A press release is a written document prepared for the media – also called the press - that announces something newsworthy. This 1-3-page document is disseminated to the media in the hopes that reporters and editors will use the information contained within in an upcoming TV or radio broadcast, in a newspaper or magazine issue, or on the media’s website.

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.

Before running with your press release ask questions: Does it interest their readers? Does it benefit the community in some way? The key question to ask yourself before preparing one is, “Who cares about this information?” And as long as the answer is people who will turn to the press for information, you’re on the right track with your press release.

On the other hand, if the only people who will be interested in this information is your family and friends, or even your employees, then you really don’t need a public press release.

The Goal of a Press Release

The main purpose of all press releases is to promote something significant and specific, and to do so clearly. Beyond that, a press release is a document that adheres to a strict format and serves three marketing and promotional purposes:

  • To notify the media about an event in hopes that they will spread the word.

  • To share something about your business, hoping a reporter will see a story in your press release and write an actual news article about it.

  • To promote your business' appearance on the internet via blogs, websites, and social networks.

Tips for Writing a Press Release 

A press release typically begins with the name of the city where it originates from and the current date. It should include an attention-grabbing headline. Always write in the third person, sharing riveting information from an outsider's perspective (as the media would).

If your information isn't riveting, take a step back. Maybe there's something you can add to your event or announcement that will make it more interesting. Of course, that "something" has to happen. You can't mention that an A-list celebrity will show up when you know full well they won't.

Avoid dry, rigid wording. You don't want to lose your reader with the first sentence. The bottom line is that if your event is boring, your press release may be yawn-worthy too.

A press release should not be a mere recitation of facts. Effective press releases always employ quotes from someone significant to the company or event—a corporate executive or a representative from the charity benefiting from the event, for example. But quotes in press releases are seldom a verbatim rendition of what a personage actually said. Instead, they are usually an idealized version of a statement—what that person should have said—that pushes the press release's agenda. They act a rhetorical device to raise the interest level.

Types of Press Releases

  1. New Product Launches

  2. Mergers and Acquisitions

  3. Product Updates

  4. Events

  5. Grand Openings

  6. New Partnerships

  7. Rebranding

  8. Executive Promotions/Hiring

  9. Awards

Press Release Format

  1. Title and Italicized Subheading to Summarize the News

  2. News Location and newspeg in opening line

  3. Two to Three Paragraphs to Add Information

  4. Bulleted Facts or Figures

  5. Company Description at Bottom

  6. Contact Information and "For Immediate Release" at the Top

  7. A "###" at the End

Type of press release: Event

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