What is a press release?
You’ve probably heard the expression “press release” once or twice before. It’s actually very likely you’ve read your fair share of articles based on press releases but have you ever questioned what a press release actually is?
According to the definition on the Business Dictionary, a press release is:
Written, audio taped, or video taped matter about a book, event, person, or program, presented by its promoters or principals to the media for editorial comment and free coverage. Also called media release or news release.
We’ll use this article to further explore this basic definition and give you all the information you need about press releases, their general purpose and what you must do to get yours noticed.
What is a press release?
Most people think of press releases simply as a one-way ticket to get the news about your product (or your company) out there and published in all types of media, such as print publications, TV, radio and, most common nowadays, relevant websites to the content you’re promoting.
All press releases’ main purpose must be to promote something, whether it’s an event, an award, or a change in your company. It serves mainly promotional and marketing purposes.
Press releases can’t be considered a guaranteed marketing tool, though, because sending out a press release doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll get published or passed along by all media sources you wished it would.
Press releases are can either be produced by specialized PR management company or internally, and sent to editors and reports, responsible for selecting the ones that get published.
The professionals responsible for determining which information will be published receive hundreds (even thousands) of releases every day so…how can you make them notice yours?
For starters, you must have a purpose for writing and sending out a press release. You have to write about interesting topics that’ll actually capture people’s attention such a special event or a new product/feature.
After determining the purpose for writing a press release, you need to specify who will these news target so you send it out to media outlets that’ll actually be interested in sharing your news.
Even though this may seem rather obvious, that’s where many entrepreneurs go wrong. Respecting the publication’s audience when choosing who you’ll send your press release to is an important thing to pay attention to.
We won’t get into the specifics of formatting and readability, just make sure you follow the format and style recommendations.
Other than focusing 99% of your attention on producing your text (make it shorter than two pages), divide your attention equally between the text and the headline. A brief and clear eye-catching headline is normally enough to motivate a reader to find out the content.
Make sure your press release is long enough to cover all basic elements (who, what, when, where, why, how) and short enough that your reader won’t get bored before finishing it.
These 6 basic elements should be included in the text according to how relevant each of them is to your story. If you’re writing a release about a new feature/product, start by covering the what, why and how.
Don’t ever, ever lose focus and exaggerate the information. Keep in mind that you’re not writing an article to be published directly, you’re presenting relevant information in hopes that the publication sees its importance and write about it.
Also, proof-read everything before sending it out. A press release full of typos is more than enough to lose the editor’s attention.