In the world of public relations, the words “press release” are part of the daily vernacular in day-to-day communications. The bottom line is, everyone has a story to tell. Whether a company is launching a new product, issuing a breaking news alert, providing details on an upcoming event or highlighting the great work they’ve done, a press release is the best and most efficient way to deliver the news straight to the media and external audiences.
However, not all press releases are created equal. For a press release to be truly successful, companies need to strategically think about the press release content, the timing of the release and the publishing medium they plan to utilize among other top factors. Below are a few best practices to follow when issuing a press release:
For the most part, the content of your press release should be short and straight to the point. As a best practice, the headline should be concise –around five to seven words— while providing a perfect picture of the main point. If possible, use key words that are trending in your sector to expand your SEO reach. You can always use the subhead to provide a broader picture of key components, but the subhead should also be no more than a sentence.
Next, the body should provide the who, what, when, where and why within the first two paragraphs of the release to allow the media to quickly understand the importance of the news and decide if this is something they would like to cover or pass on to someone else.
If you have a quote from a customer or a third-party reference, make sure to position it close to the top or no lower than the middle of the page to ensure visibility. Additionally, include any graphics or short videos you have to accompany your release. Visuals not only help to quickly paint the full picture, but they can also provide additional collateral that media can utilize to tell your story in further detail.
As far as word count is concerned, a press release between 600-800 words should do the trick to not only get the media’s attention, but to also ensure they read the entire release.
The timing of a release is everything. Ideally, most press releases should go out early in the morning within the time zone you are trying to reach. This allows media publications to receive the news early enough to reach back out to you with any questions they may have for the story they are working on.
Additionally, if you are planning to publish your press release around a big event, ensure you are carving out a specific window of time where you press release can rise above the noise and garner the attention of your target audience. Don’t forget to take into consideration national and bank holidays such as Thanksgiving or Martin Luther King Day, and avoid sending press releases a few days before or after the holiday to prevent your press release going out while your audience’s attention is preoccupied elsewhere.
Once your content and timing are established, it’s time to decide how you will publish your press release. At this stage, you will need to answer the question of whether you will be sending out your release through a wire service, such as BusinessWire, PR Newswire, or Nasdaq GlobalNewswire, or directly posting it on your website.
Remember that not all press releases have to be distributed through a wire service. We recommend publishing a press release through a wire service only if your company is announcing a new funding round, product launch or a customer win so that it reaches audiences and media publications beyond your network and amplifies the overall reach of your announcement.
Press releases that discuss new company appointments or upcoming events and speaking engagements can forego the wire and be posted directly to your site. If you go this route, ensure you pitch the press release directly to your core media targets and network, as well as promote your news via your social channels to maximize reach.
Press releases are a great way to quickly and effectively get your company’s news out there. By creating a perfect combination of the right content, timing and publishing strategy, you can ensure your press release is a success for your company.