What is a Press Release?

Press releases are the most common form of PR writing. Sometimes called news releases or media releases, press releases are a media relations tool used to pitch a newsworthy story about a business, website, or person to journalists and other members of the media. Press releases aren’t designed to be published as-is. Instead, the purpose of a press release is to inspire a journalist to research the story further or conduct an interview to write a unique news story.

What a Press Release Looks Like

Press releases generally fall in the 300-600 word range, and rarely exceed one print page if being distributed through fax or mail. The growing popularity of online press release distribution allows for greater flexibility in press release length, as well as the addenda that can be attached to press releases for distribution (such as photos, company logos, or other supporting documents).

While sometimes confused with more general articles, press releases should be written in a more journalistic style called the reverse pyramid, where the most newsworthy information is presented first. Press releases are kicked off with a headline, which is a catchy title designed to explain the general news angle while grabbing journalists’ attention. Press releases are dated, and also contain the hometown of the issuing person, company, or organization.

The Press Release Process

1. Do something newsworthy enough to be of interest to journalists and / or bloggers.

2. Come up with a catchy and concise headline.

3. Write a brief summary of the news, if using online press release distribution methods.

4. Write the body of the press release.

5. Write a boilerplate to close the press release (a background paragraph about the issuing person or organization).

6. Distribute the press release online or offline to journalists, newswires, or press release distribution sites.

7. Respond to any media calls or emails requesting further information.

8. Track the resulting coverage of a press release using a media clipping service, or online search engine tools, such as alerts.

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