According to figures published by Harvard Business Review, around 75% of all consumer packaged goods that launch fail to earn $7.5 million in their first year, and fewer than 3% manage first-year sales of $50 million. Even big brands struggle to attract the attention of consumers and make their product launches succeed.
There are many reasons why most new products fail, with a common one being that the brand didn’t attract enough attention or generate enough buzz in the media. A good press release is the first step towards a successful launch, and if that step is missing, the product is doomed before it even makes it onto the shelves.
This article will aid you in creating an effective press release and provide a free press release template for you to work from.
What Is a Press Release?
A press release is a document that is sent out to journalists to attract their attention and encourage them to write a story about the product, service, or event in question.
A press release should:
Be focused on conveying basic facts and telling the journalist about something that is newsworthy.
Provide journalists with the information they need to contact the company or person behind it, so they can build on the release and turn it into a story.
Press releases have a clear objective:
Raising awareness of a newsworthy event within your business
Encouraging journalists to write about the business/brand
Generating objective media coverage
Press releases do not guarantee positive coverage or editorial control. If that’s what you’re looking for, you should purchase advertisements or sponsored features. Press releases are aimed at journalists to obtain unbiased news coverage.
Why Is a Press Release Important?
Writing a press release is the first step towards building a relationship with journalists, and building your brand both as a company and as a person.
- A good press release should catch the eye of journalists who write about your niche, and from there you’ll have the chance to be quoted in articles about your chosen product and to build ongoing relationships with newspapers and magazines.
- A poorly written press release, on the other hand, could simply languish unread in the news wires. It may not directly harm the general public’s perception of your brand, but if journalists become accustomed to seeing badly written press releases associated with your brand they may start to ignore your company when scrolling through the wires.
How to Write a Press Release
There is a standard press release format that most news wires and PR companies expect. Following this format is a good idea if you would like your release to get attention from as many publications as possible.
Follow these tips to write a compelling press release.
1. Get Straight to the Point
A press release should clearly convey the following:
Who it is about
What they have done/are doing
Where this took place or is taking place
When things happened / will be happening
Why this matters
Start with the important information, then add detail later in the press release. This is known as the inverted pyramid, and the purpose of this writing structure is to allow people to get all of the important information from a press release at first glance.
2. Start with a Press Release Template
Stick to the standard format for press releases in your country. You should be able to find a press release example that shows:
Want to see what a typical press release looks like? Download our FREE press release template:
Want to see what a typical press release looks like? Our press release template will show you what information to include, the order in which to include it and how to lay out the release.
Download our FREE editable press release template and fill it out right from your computer!
Tip: Consider saving a press release sample PDF tailored to your brand, with your contact details and company information included, so you can work from that every time you write a press release.
If you’re still not sure what to include, take a moment to read some press releases published by others in your industry. For example, take a look at how Crytex writes about its video games and generates buzz among enthusiasts, or how Skoda used the World Rally Championships to build its brand.
3. Have a Word Count in Mind
Most press releases are between 300 and 600 words in length.
There’s not really a right or wrong answer to “how long should a press release be?” but in general, shorter is better.
Some smaller news outlets do share press releases in near-unadulterated form. Bigger news publications don’t tend to do this. So, keep your press release short and simple.
If you have a lot to say, mention that you’re available for interviews and wait for interested journalists to follow up.
4. Include Useful and Timely Statistics
Research and statistics are incredibly useful tools to include in press releases.
They make your headlines compelling and eye-catching. As a reader, you may have noticed how common statistics are in headlines. Providing relevant, accurate, and interesting statistics as a part of your press release means reporters can simply make use of those figures when writing about your product or service.
You can find useful statistics on Statista, a global database platform with studies, forecasts, and statistics for almost any niche. Other useful statistics sites include the Office for National Statistics (if you’re aiming for a UK audience), and the US Census website (in particular the QuickFacts section) for USA-based businesses. There are similar government websites for other countries.
5. Make the Hook Obvious
Explain the Value in The Headline
The statistics we just mentioned are a good example of a “hook”. One of the most important things a journalist learns is how to make readers take an interest in a story.
- The average reader doesn’t care that Financial Company A has just launched a new pension product that tracks the international markets.
- Readers may care that almost 50% of Americans have less than $100,000 saved for their retirement, and so, of course, that’s a good statistic to use as a hook to lead into the main content: Financial Company A’s product has a low opening balance requirement and flexible monthly contributions, making it easy for anyone, even those on a low income, to save.
The bulk of the press release is the same. The difference is in the hook. When writing a press release it’s vital that you explain why the journalist, and ultimately the reader, should care about the new product or service.
Another good example of a hook is a seasonal event or a “National Day of” something. No matter what it is you sell or produce, there’s most likely a day associated with it. If you run a dog sitting service, you might find talking about National Dogs in Politics Day (September 23rd) useful.
Browse the National Day Calendar and make a list of little-known days that you can use to attract attention to your business.
Tip: Remember that there are long lead times for print stories, so for newspapers, pitch your story several days before you’d like it to be published. For magazines, think in months. Waiting until November or December to pitch a Christmas story means you will not get attention, because the magazine will have already filled its pages with other stories.
6. Supply a Link to High-Quality Images
Pictures are an important part of any news article or piece of press coverage, whether in a magazine or online. Include a link to some high-quality photographs or product images for journalists to download. Your image database should include:
A photo of a person, someone who is ‘the face of your company’
Some images of the product
Images of the product in use, if that’s applicable
Your company logo (in vector and jpg format if possible)
Ideally, your images should be between 150 and 300ppi if you’re hoping to secure newspaper coverage. Anything lower, and the image will be blurry when printed. Some magazines may prefer higher quality images, up to 1200ppi. Lower quality images are acceptable for websites since download speeds are important.
If you are able to do so, supply the same image in a few sizes, such as 640×426, 1920×1280, 2400×1600, and the original photo size. The journalists may then choose which size is most suitable for their publication, saving them time and reducing unnecessary downloads.
7. Include Your Contact Details
Be sure to include a bit about yourself at the end of the press release, along with some contact details and a note explaining that you’re available for interviews or to answer more questions. Make sure you really are available to respond to queries, as journalists are often working to tight lead times.
This is particularly true for online journalists, who may be expected to turn around ‘hot topic’ stories rapidly. Being responsive makes the journalist’s job easier, and means they’ll think positively of you and be more likely to use you in the future as an expert, or when they have some space to fill on a tight deadline.
Do I Need PR Assistance?
Some companies work with a PR firm to help them secure media coverage, but that isn’t always necessary.
If you have a unique product and are targeting a local area, or are not in a particularly competitive niche, you can secure coverage with compelling press releases and some effort to positively engage with the media.
Press Release Writing Services to Build Brand Awareness
Writing a good press release is a skill and one that requires practice and time to hone.
If you’re a brand owner who would prefer to focus on your own projects or an agency responsible for your clients’ media outreach, you may find the SEMrush Content Marketplace useful.
Using the Marketplace, you can have a new product launch or event press release written within five business days by following our simple three-step process.
Taking into consideration your goal and company image, our expert writers will create a press release that matches your brand and sends the message you’re aiming for.
The press release service frees you to focus on putting the finishing touches to your new product or service, tending to your customers, and managing the parts of the business you know best.
Check out our press release writing services today and get your next launch off to a great start.