Press releases are pretty straightforward. They only deal with facts and you don’t have to worry about convincing people to buy a product that they’re not really interested in.
So, writing a PR shouldn’t be any trouble at all, right? Wrong.
Why You Need To Follow Press Release Examples
A lot of writers that happen to be brilliant creative writers can still struggle with Press Releases. One of the main problems that some writers come across when writing press releases is trying to keep everything concise. A lot of writers might be used to padding out their work and looking for extra little tidbits that will help them reach their target word count. The press release is a completely different beast though. Sometimes the best idea is for a writer to look at a press release example to get a feel of how a good PR should look and feel.
The Search Is On
Now, you would think that looking for press release examples would be fairly easy. Uncle Google provides plenty of answers to more complex questions every day. But then when you type those three small words in to the little box and hit enter — you get more than you bargained for.
Which Example Is Best?
There are small press releases and large press releases. There are press releases by industry and press releases by date. With all these examples, how do you know which one will suit your specific needs?
In order to figure this out, you’ll need to know what your needs are. How much do you really know about writing a press release? What kind of questions do you need to have answered before you can write the perfect PR? Let’s start from the beginning.
What Do You Need to Consider?
Press releases are solely for newsworthy events. This is an extremely strict rule (although one that many people break regularly); but that doesn’t mean that PRs can’t cover a whole host of subjects. They could be about anything from a merger between companies to a business offering a discount for some reason.
1. What’s it about? Make a note of the news that you need to write about in the press release. If a company is opening its doors for the first time in a while, look for similar PRs by typing in search terms that might be used for your company.
2. How should it read? The examples that are thrown out from this search will more than likely give you an idea on the style and tone of a press release (hint: it’s not conversational like a blog, PRs are serious stuff!) as well as how the press release should be presented. Generally speaking, a PR should be made up of around 4 paragraphs that give details of a company’s news to interested parties.
3. What should it include? You’ll notice that PRs won’t use any more words than necessary to tell the facts of the story. This is for two reasons. One: the structure of a press release is designed to give all the major details at the very start of the article to make sure the reader gets all the important information even if they don’t finish reading the full piece. And two: to make sure the important information isn’t cut off if the editor decides to shorten the article.
Because the basics of press release writing follow the same rules, the structure of PRs can be quite uniform. So it stands to reason that as well as studying a live version of a press release example for content ideas, many writers like to use templates to write their news releases as well.
There are a number of good programs that utilize press release templates:
- Word – As part of the Microsoft Office suite, Word is a popular choice for many writers. Typing “press release” in the search box for online templates will give several options for PR templates that the user can fill their own details in for a quick and professional look.
- Microsoft Publisher – Writers can follow step by step instructions from one of the thousands of ‘How To’ articles online and make their own template using a program like Microsoft Publisher. They can then save the template and use it every time they need to write a press release. Due to the uniformity of PRs, writers should be able to use the same template each time with minimal amount of tweaks.
- PRWeb: PRWeb is one of the top leading sites to distribute press releases online. It has the highest amount of traffic and the most-shared news stories in terms of press releases. Here’s an example of a press release we wrote for PRWeb (note the correct title, subtitle & formatting overall):
Anyone Can Write a Press Release
This is absolutely true. Anyone can have a go at writing press releases — in the same way that anyone could have a go at driving a car or walking a tight rope; not everyone can be successful at it.
Anyone trying to write a press release and knows how to follow good press release examples needs to remember some fundamental points about how it should look, how it should read and what it needs to contain. Looking at one press release example can help with this. But looking at a number of examples that show both ends of the spectrum will give an even better idea.
Things to Remember
Press releases don’t have to be the most complicated thing in the world. Remember to:
- Use a bold headline to grab attention
- List the news first and tell people everything they need to know in detail
- Look at other PRs for a similar event within the same industry. Make notes on what does and doesn’t work
- Answer the main questions that everyone needs to know “who, where, what, why, when and how?”
- DO NOT sell anything to anyone. A press release is always objective and only offers the facts
If you can remember these points and learn from other press release examples then you might well be able to write a useful, informative press release that gets noticed.
Modern Press Releases
In today’s world, the way the press release is actually released is slightly different — actually a lot different. People can skip the pitch part of the process and go right to publication. For example:
1. The client requests a PR
2. The writer writes the PR
3. Client sends the PR to an online press release distributer
4. The PR will be sent to journalists and bloggers relevant to the particular industry of the press release, but it will also become live on the Internet exactly as it’s been written.
What Does This Mean?
Press releases must be written exceptionally well so that they could actually be an editorial story. In the past, the only people who saw press releases in their raw form were the journalists and the editors who were being asked to run the story. Now, online press releases mean everybody gets a shot at being seen. While this might sound nice, the harsh reality is that people might have stood a better chance of their PR being read with the old way. As harsh as the journalists might be on a PR, at least the ones that made it would have gone to press in the best light possible. Now, it’s up to companies and their marketing team to come up with a PR that wows the public all on their own. That might sound like a fairly easy task to a writer who hasn’t had much experience with writing press releases, especially with some good press release examples to follow, but the fact of the matter is that press releases are written in a very particular way.
Press Releases in a Nutshell
When it comes to writing effective press releases that people want to read, there are a few things to remember:
- Use an attention-grabbing headline that tells the reader exactly what to expect in the PR itself. It’s best to be direct here and get right to the point. Press releases aren’t about leaving people guessing.
- Lead with the news. The most important factors should be right at the top of the PR. Taking three paragraphs to let people know the purpose of the press release just won’t cut it. In fact, if a writer waits three paragraphs to explain the news in a PR it’s unlikely that they’ll even have a reader by that point.
- Keep everything factual. It’s not a personal account or a fictional story. You’re reporting a news event for a business or company. The PR should answer the “who, what, where, when, why and how?” questions. Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to get an idea of the structure of the piece. Once the basic structure is down with the answers to the 5 “W” questions, it’s a matter of putting the story together in a logical order.
- Check and re-check your work. Any PRs that show potential for being legitimate news stories still have the opportunity to be picked up by journalists, editors and bloggers of various publications. However, if the PR is full of errors, poorly-written and generally tosh, then nobody will want to touch it with a barge pole. Not the public, not the media, not even your own grandmother who’s always been your biggest fan.
- Write for your audience. You might not be selling anything, but you still want people to read your work. You need to think about the information that the reader will want. Part of this will come from the 5 “W” questions, but it will also come from the details that you use to answer the questions.
If you get stuck at all, there are plenty of press release examples online that will show you what you should be aiming for. Just make sure you pick a good example though, because there are plenty of horrendous press release examples that are enough to make your toes curl.
Some of the Worst Press Release Examples Ever
To understand the worth of something, sometimes you have to see the worst example ever to truly understand.
Examples of Bad Press Releases
You know when you’re in class, everyone’s reading from the same book and there’s always that one kid that’s on a different page than everyone else? That kid gets every project slightly off skew because they’re always using the wrong information. In school, this can lead to bad marks. In a press release, it can lead to a writer being black listed in the media.
If you’re wondering what bad press releases look like, then here are a few real life examples of press releases where the author has clearly been reading from the wrong page of the ‘how to write a good press release’ book.
Content Marketing Today revealed the incredibly gripping PR about the ‘ACME PRIVATE BANK MOVES TO SEVENTH FLOOR’ that is a real headline for a real press release. Wow. Just wow. The most obvious question here is, “who cares?” Under no circumstances is this considered news to anybody on the planet, which is why this PR can be classed as a fail.
Another site revealed gems such as:
- “A Truly Innovative Way to Lose Weight” Breaks the fundamental rule of not pitching a sale to the reader. The last paragraph could have been taken straight from a landing page. Bad, bad, bad.
- “Supreme Key used for Grease Removal and Cleaning Services” This one will need to be seen to be believed. The main problem here seems to be the fact that although the words are indeed English, the way they’re put together doesn’t form one single English sentence throughout the whole PR.
For new PR writers, it’s a good idea to look at both good and bad press release examples to gain a better idea of how to do it, and exactly what to stay clear of!
Overall, the humble press release has been used to grab people’s attention and bring companies into the spotlight through factual, newsworthy stories. Journalists and editors all over the world have become accustomed to receiving hundreds of press releases each week, reading through them and picking out those that will appeal to their readers. Press release examples that tick the boxes will be published, and hopefully the company will benefit from the exposure. At least that’s how it used to be.