Want to know how to compose a press release? We’ve got you covered

by Gill Fernley | 7 min read
Want to know how to compose a press release? We’ve got you covered

Writing a press release is an excellent way to get your name known, build your brand, acquire backlinks to your site, and get some publicity for your company and your latest news. But there is an art to writing something that will get you the most attention, and giving chapter and verse about your company and its entire history from the year dot isn’t it!

Read on to find out how to compose a press release that really works and grabs the attention of the media and your potential customers:

Why do you want to send a press release?

Before you start writing, think about why you want to send out a press release and ask yourself if the story you want to tell is strong enough. If you saw your story in the paper or online, would it grab you enough to stop and read it? Is it really newsworthy to anyone but your company? Have you got conflict or drama or local impact, just like the soaps on TV? If not, don’t send it until you’ve got something that will really make people sit up and take notice.

Reasons you might want to issue a news release:

• A new product or service launch
• A new partnership, merger or takeover
• New and interesting research (especially on a current hot topic)
• You won an award!
• You have new hires to show off because you’re a growing business that’s going places
• Breaking news
• Crisis management – it’s not fun when something bad happens, but it’s better for you to be the one to break the story than for the media to do it from an angle you really don’t like.

Think about your audience

Not only do you have to consider your target market and who you’d like to reach with this press release, you also need to think about who to send it to so you get the most impact from it.

You probably know the trade publications in your industry, and while we’d all love to get on the front page of Forbes and HuffPo, aiming your news release squarely at people who are interested in reading about your topic will likely get you far more interest.

You’re probably also going to get into the local paper where your business is based without too much trouble as they love local stories but while that may be nice to see, it probably won’t be as effective unless you have general news that affects where you live.

Target both aspects of your audience carefully before you start writing and you’ll produce a far sharper release that’s more likely to be picked up.

One other trick is to write your release and then tailor it to fit each publication and media outlet.

The Inverted Pyramid

If you’re wondering why I’m suddenly mentioning upside down Egyptian tombs, it’s a good bet you’ve not come across this writing formula before, but it’s really easy to apply.

Basically, the inverted pyramid format refers to putting the most intriguing and newsworthy facts at the top of your press release. It’s a way to grab people and keep them reading for more information, and it’s perfect for busy journalists who can instantly see what your press release is about and why they should care.

You then add in further supplemental facts in order of importance and your all-important quote from someone at your company to humanise the story and make it more personal.

Then finish your release with final, less important facts, your company boilerplate (your ‘about us’ copy), and who to contact for more information.

Bonus tip: The inverted pyramid model is actually a pretty good way to write a blog post and your website pages, too. Whatever you’re writing, you need to grab your audience right at the beginning and tell them why they should read on, before expanding on what you want to say.

Formatting your press release

Here’s the shape your press release should take:

• Strong, attention-grabbing headline
• The lede
• 2–5 short paragraphs, including at least one quote, and perhaps some bullet points to break up the release and make it easier to read
• Your contact information
• Your boilerplate copy

Your most important tasks are to write an amazing, eye-catching headline and a great lede that makes people want to read on.

Make sure you write in short sentences, with active voice, tight writing and plenty of white space so your press release is easy to read, and double check it at the end to make sure you’ve included everything that’s needed, especially your contact details.

When to send your press release

When sending a press release, you’ve got to consider who is receiving it and what their lead times are. You can’t seriously expect, for example, to send a Christmas press release to a trade magazine with only a week to go before the big day – you may just squeeze into an online space if they still have it, but magazines start planning for their Christmas edition in July!

Think about when people are more likely to read your news release. Monday mornings, Friday afternoons and any big holidays, such as Easter, the bank holidays and so on, aren’t likely to get your release read.

Look at the timing involved on the day. If a huge news story breaks that day, your press release will get buried, so delay it until the story dies down for best results.

Be aware of current news stories and trends, and see if you can piggyback on any of those to boost your press release.

You should then have the biggest chance of getting your release both read and printed.

If writing isn’t your strong suit and you’d much rather concentrate on running your business, you can still take advantage of the great publicity press releases can get you by hiring a writer. If you do that, you’ll need to create a good copywriting brief with all the details and quotes included that your writer needs to have before putting fingers to keyboard, including your target media outlets, target audience and what you want to achieve with the press release.

With your finished press release in hand, you can then send it out to your chosen media outlets and to other services for wider distribution, such as the ones listed below:

PR Newswire


Global Newswire if you’re international – or at least your news is!


Once your press release has gone out, make sure you’re prepared with your media kit, what you want to say and some snappy quotes, should you get calls or emails for more information, then you can be sure you’re making the most of your press release.

For more tips on writing an attention-grabbing press release, read on with our article, 10 tips for how to write the best press release. There’s also more from Hubspot, along with some free press release templates to download in their article, How to Write a Press Release. Or if you’re looking for press release writing services done by a pro, why not use Copify?

Main image credit: Markus Spiske temporausch.com
Internal image credits: kaboompics.comkaboompics.comJohn-Mark smith
Gill Fernley

Gill Fernley

The director of her own copywriting firm, Gill writes B2B and B2C content for SMEs and digital marketing agencies. She has a background in performing arts and writes conversational, direct sales copy for businesses on a range of topics. She’s also a keen writer of chick lit.