Advice for marketing your business

How to write a great press release

24 November 2015

Have you got some great news about your business? A press release is still a great way to share it.

Even in this digital, social media-savvy world, the effectiveness of a great press release is undiminished – a well-written example can help your story stand out amongst the noise, and do a lot to get you and your brand noticed.

What makes a good press release?

There’s a simple reason why press releases are still so effective - the best examples use bold, punchy headlines and are written in clear, concise language designed to get the important points through to the reader as quickly as possible, even if they’re just scanning the content.

This is especially important when you think of the sheer volume of content out there – you have a very small window to make an impression on the reader, whether they’re a journalist, customer, or just someone you want to impress.

Chances are you’ll be distributing your press release online - to help your intended audience find your story when they use a search engine, it’s vital that you write with them in mind

Think about the words and phrases they might use when searching Google for articles relevant to your story. Make a note of them – you’ll need them later.

Good reasons to write a press release

There are no right or wrong subjects when it comes to writing a press release. Examples could be to announce:

  • New business partnerships
  • Customer contract wins
  • New internal appointments
  • New product launches
  • Industry research and survey findings
  • Milestones reached within the company
  • New office or branch openings

Things to consider before writing a press release

You’ve got this far, which means you’ve got a story. But before you go any further, ask yourself:

Is your story really newsworthy? It’s undoubtedly interesting to you, but will it be of interest to journalists and their readers?

Put yourself in their shoes, and be hard on yourself – announcing news that doesn’t interest anyone but you is not only a waste of your own precious time, but it can dilute the effectiveness of any of your subsequent releases (remember the story of the boy who cried wolf..?).

Using images in your press release

If your story calls out to have an image included with it, go the extra mile to get a high-quality, professional-looking photo. This will help to engage journalists who are often as interested in visual impact as much as words.

If you can’t stretch to a professional photographer, consider asking for help from any enthusiast friends. Resist the urge to send a quick mobile phone ‘snap’ – it will do you no favours!

Include a ready-written caption for the photo, too – keep it simple, but illustrative, and include names of the people who appear.

Some general guidelines to bear in mind when writing your press release:

  • Your choice of headline is critical – as well as being punchy, you should try and include key words and phrases that you think your target audience will be searching for in search engines
  • Write in short sentences
  • Use concise & objective language, but keep the overall tone friendly & natural
  • A great press release will be 300 words or less
  • When it’s printed out, it should be no more than 2 pages long

Linking back to your website in your press release

Your press release could be picked up by a journalist who publishes online. When this happens, it’s really important that you try and ensure a link is included back to your website.

Having a convenient link from the online article back to your website has a couple of great benefits:

  • It will help drive traffic (i.e. potential customers) to your website
  • ‘Inbound’ links from reputable and authoritative news sources are good news: it’s one of the factors search engines use to rank their search results, improving the visibility of your website.

If you see your article published anywhere without a link included, contact the publisher and ask them if they would mind adding one.

Follow our easy-to-use press release template

Here's our tried-and-tested structure for writing an effective press release, which will help your news stories be punchy, easily scannable, and appealing to your audience:

Punchy press release headline: 8 words or less

Sub-head: a single sentence summarising the key angle of the story

(Many readers will read this and make a snap decision whether to read further. Try and include additional phrases that potential readers will be searching for online.)

First paragraph: This should be a top-line summary of your news story. Avoid repeating what’s in the headline, and instead make it your ‘pitch’. Like the sub-headline, many journalists will read this and decide whether story is of further interest. This paragraph should also include some of the key words and phrases that you used in the headline and sub-head.

Second paragraph: Use this to summarise the ‘who, what, where, why and how?’ of the story. Use it to back up the first paragraph, without repeating it.

Third paragraph: This is an optional paragraph. Use it if you have something more interesting to say, but ask yourself: is it really necessary?

Quote: “The third or fourth paragraph should be a quote,” said Joe Bloggs, Managing Director of ACME Plc. “It should be short and punchy, and can be broken into two parts. You can also use more subjective and emotional language to help get your point across.”

Subsequent paragraphs: The reader should have all the important information by now, but you can use one or two more paragraphs include more detailed technical data or helpful background information.

  • Consider using bullet points at this stage
  • They make details easier to scan and digest
Notes to editors

This section should include a brief paragraph or two that describes your company and what it does (this is known as a boilerplate). This gives the journalist a snapshot of your business and its background.

For further press information, photography or an interview, please contact:

Add your relevant contact information here, including your website address.

And finally - before you send your press release...

Before you distribute your press release, proof it for errors.

Then ask someone else to check it again! Once it’s released into the wild, it can be almost impossible to correct.

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