How to write a press release: free template and tips

How to structure your press release to grab journalists' attention

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Written and reviewed by:
Robyn Summers-Emler Grow Online Editor

It’s no secret: media coverage will help you get your business noticed. Whether you’re launching a new product or have just closed an impressive funding round, having your announcement in the news can only mean good things.

But when it comes to convincing journalists to cover your story, it’s not enough just to have something interesting to share – you also need to provide an attention-grabbing press release.

If you’re a founder who doesn’t have the resources to hire a PR professional, we have good news for you – it’s perfectly possible to write your own effective press release. Here are the steps you need to follow to make the news:

  1. Write a great headline
  2. Include the most newsworthy points in the copy
  3. Format the release like a PR agency would
  4. Target specific journalists and relevant publications

Let’s now dive into the granular details…

How should you structure your press release?

  1. A clear and catchy headline: this is the first thing that journalists read when opening your press release so make sure it's a good one. You want something punchy and catchy that encourages the reader to find out more about your story.
  2. City and date bolded: this is pretty self-explanatory. They are very helpful to journalists who are trying to figure out the ‘when' and ‘where' of your story.
  3. Key information: include all the details that will flesh out your story. Make sure that you start with the most important information and leave the least essential points until the end.
  4. Quotations: to give your story an extra level of expertise and a human angle, make sure to add in quotes from experts. This may also encourage journalists to reach out for further comment.
  5. Ends: this will separate your press release from additional information.
  6. Additional information: share any other valuable background information about your business, the methodology used if you're sharing survey or study results, and contact details.

Press Release template

How to write a press release: step-by-step

💥Step 1: Write a great headline

First, decide on the angle of your news. To do this, consider the ‘so what?’ rule.

Place yourself in the shoes of a person who has never heard of your business and has no attachment to it. Why would your announcement matter to them and the publications you’ve decided to send it to? Why would a journalist agree that your news is newsworthy?

The key to hacking newsworthiness? Timing. Look at the stories currently filling the news – an announcement that can be linked to the current news and popular interest is more likely to gain traction in the media. For example, if you’re a food company launching a new vegan product, it'd be strategically sound to send out your press release in January as that's when lots of people try out Veganuary.

Make sure to point it out in your email introduction and press release copy to ensure you’re catching journalists’ attention.

Don't be poetic in your headline – get to the point!

Even the juiciest revelation imaginable won’t get far if it's long-winded and ambiguous. Keep it short, punchy, and factual – resist the temptation to make a joke or a play on words; if a journalist doesn’t understand the facts immediately they will move on.

📰 Step 2: Include the most newsworthy points in the copy

To nail this step down, you’ll need to consider five things:

Start with a punchy lead sentence
Just like your header, the press release copy should be factual and easy to read. It should begin with what journalists call a lead sentence, which clearly reveals your announcement and is very similar to your header. Consider beginning this sentence with the name of your business, and keep it under 25 words.

Answer the five Ws (and one H)
A press release should answer the six basic questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how. If you’re sharing news, it’s fairly safe to assume the ‘when’ element of the story is likely to be now or today, but make sure the topical nature of your announcement is apparent.

Stick to what journalists call the ‘inverted pyramid’ structure, with the most important facts at the start, followed by the less vital but still useful details, and then finally the least relevant, more contextual information at the end.

Keep it concise
When weaving words together, avoid long and clunky sentences. Excluding quotations and your notes to the editor, your release should be three to four short paragraphs (about 300-400 words). Remember, if a journalist wants to know more they will get in touch.

Include a quotation
Quotations are a great opportunity to give a human, emotive perspective to your story. As the owner of your business, it’s likely the quote will come from you, but you may want to include a comment from a third part, such as a commercial partner, an expert, or employee close to the project. This should amount to a couple of sentences.

Add notes to the editor
Usually set out in bullet points, the notes to the editor can include the information you weren’t able to squeeze in your copy: more details about your business, product or services, and links to relevant pages on your website.

🎨 Step 3: Format the release like a PR agency would

Now that you’ve got everything written out, all you have to do is make it look like a press release. You can consult the template at the beginning of this article to see it all laid out, but in summary you should have:

  • Header in bold, centred, and slightly sized up
  • At the start of your lead sentence, add the city you’re in and the date in bold. If the news are embargoed, disclose that
  • Body of your press release
  • Quotations
  • Add a new line that reads ‘ENDS’ to signify the end of your announcement
  • Notes to the editor and contact details
  • Make sure to attach royalty-free high quality image publications in the email

🎯 Step 4: Target specific journalists and relevant publications

When picking publications for your hit list, research the type of story each typically covers to understand which one will be best suited for your news. Make sure in the introduction of your email you point out why your news is topical and relevant to their audience.

If you’re a product business, you could also consider researching journalists’ office addresses and posting samples – they’ll be more inclined to write about your product if they’ve tried it themselves

Consider offering the exclusive
One way to entice a journalist is to tell them that his news is being offered exclusively to their publication. However, if you do this, you must do it honestly and refrain from sending your release anywhere else.

Use an attention-grabbing subject line
Before sending your release out, remember to pick an email subject line that clearly and concisely reveals your announcement. Don’t make a play on words and never just write ‘press release’. For example, ‘[Insert Company Name] announces landmark £500 million funding for fighting climate change’ is better than ‘As the trees and branches of the Amazon continue to peril, [Insert Company Name] chooses to take action’.

Top tips for writing a press release

  • Contact the right publications: we spoke with Amy Thompson, Senior Digital PR Executive at MVF Global, and she revealed that, “By taking time to research different publications and journalists, you can gain a better understanding of their work and flex your pitch to match the type of stories they are interested in.”
  • Make it clear why your press release is newsworthy: Thompson advises that, “You should write about relevant topics that people will find engaging and fundamentally make them want to talk about your business.” Therefore, you should be in tune with the news cycle and understand how your press release fits into it.
  • Get to the point: “Journalists receive hundreds of press releases each week, so one of the most crucial things is quickly catching their attention and keeping them interested,” says Thomspon and adds, “ensure to have your key points in the release’s opening and keep it brief and to the point.”
  • Include compelling quotes: good quotes can provide valuable additional information and anecdotes, rather than just generic information. Including catchy and insightful quotes can even lead to journalists asking for a follow up interview!
  • Avoid industry jargon: just because you know what that funny-sounding acronym means doesn’t mean journalists will as well. Keep things simple and easy to understand so journalists are compelled to pick up your story.
  • Send time sensitive news articles early: if your news are time sensitive, send it to reporters days in advance so they have time to write up the story. If you want outlets to put the brakes on publishing your story, make it clear that your news is embargoed until a specific date.

Why write a press release

  • Attract media attention: when you share something that’s newsworthy, it can easily get picked up by the media. This can bring attention to your company and stretch out the margins of your exposure, which lets you tap into new audiences.
  • Garner publicity and brand awareness: SMEs have lots of ground to cover when it comes to making their way into the public radar. Press releases are a great boost in this arena. Publicity can help you create buzz and awareness of your brand.
  • Improve SEO: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an important thing for many businesses and organisations, as it helps your company website rank in search results. A well-written press release will usually have lots of relevant keywords that will make it easier to find in the first page of search results.

When to write a press release

In short, whenever you have something newsworthy to share or you have an exciting upcoming announcement or event. This could range from an exciting new hire, an imminent product or service launch, or a recently received award. Just keep in mind that if your release is time sensitive, you’ll probably want to release it ahead of time so journalists have time to write the story up.

Conclusion

A stellar press release can be your shot to fame, as long as you draft it well and send it to the right contacts. If you ace it, you’ll be able to create buzz and grab attention that could lead to new exciting opportunities.

As you’re writing your press release, revisit all the steps we outlined here to make sure you’re polishing it to its absolute brightest. Once you’re ready, hit ‘send’ and get ready to receive more exposure and officially make it into the public eye!

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