Writing Good Press Releases

Ahhhh the press release. The much-maligned tool of PR pros used ever since PR was invented in the early 1900’s. Today, most press releases I read just aren’t very good and I don’t know if it’s ChatGPT, some other AI, marketing people trying to hype things up or an over-enthusiastic CEO passing out those rose-colored glasses. But the fact is the writing just isn’t very good. So I thought I’d help with a few tips to make YOUR next press release reasonably…ok. Note: Obviously this assumes you have a newsworthy topic that requires announcement.

  1. Keep it short — Did you know that newswire services charge you extra for one word over 400?  They sure do. But aside from this, you always want to keep your release short and crisp with links to additional info as needed.
  2. Keep it clear — Write LIKE a journalist FOR journalists. Save your marketing hype copy for your Facebook ads and get clear about your 5Ws – Who, What When, Where and Why — and tighten it up so it’s SUPER clear. Clarity of message is goal #1 here.
  3. No opinions—Ever — Of course YOU think it’s great, you think it’s “revolutionary” and you think it’s “going to change the face of humanity as we know it” And you might be right — but don’t say it UNLESS it’s in quotes. All statements in a press release should be accurate, factual and devoid of marketing’s often horrible influence.
  4. Keep quotes quotable — Is the CEO “excited” and “thrilled” to announce something? Great. No one cares. The press don’t care, the PR person doing the release doesn’t care. If you must include a quote from a CEO, don’t make it a vanity one — SAY something real. One of my clients was talking about taking on Microsoft in his space (cable) and we created a killer quote that went like this — “In a fight between a shark like Microsoft and a tiger like us, we know we’ll win every single time—because this fight is on land.” See? That quote went everywhere. Thrilled and excited won’t.  
  5. Use data all the time — The media LOVE data and if you have some a press release is where you want to show it. Good PR people know how to show it and make sense of it for the audience, too. Don’t assume they’ll get it. Go that extra mile and explain it.

Now that you’ve got your super tight, clear 400-word masterpiece, make sure you include an image that helps tell the story. Got a new product launch — image of the product — Startup company raised some money?  — Company logo or a shot of the founders that looks good. You get the idea. ALWAYS include an image.

Should you put the release over a newswire? Yes, because you will get some SEO juice out of it and the cost is nominal. I like using Newswire.com, but there are several good providers. Now PR firms like mine take good press releases and send them out with pitches to reporters in order to generate original news stories. It’s tough to do, but depending on the news value, the timing and the outlet, publicity results like this can still happen.  

And finally, please don’t forget to use your own channels to amplify YOUR release. This is the low-hanging fruit part. That means publishing it on YOUR website, YOUR LinkedIn feeds and other social channels. Don’t miss this. You finally have something newsworthy and useful to say on social media—so say it.  

Creating good press releases is very important and when you see what you’re up against, it’s not too difficult to shine above the rest. Just follow my guidance and you will be making news in no time!