Oct 21, 2022

How to Write a Press Release (& Free Template)

Written by Clodagh O’Brien

A press release is a great way to promote your company or brand to a wide audience. It relies on media channels (such as newspapers, magazines and online outlets like Wired or BuzzFeed) that can spread news and information on a local, national and global scale. Use it to enhance all your digital marketing efforts and get the best of both worlds.

Not only can a press release get information out there quickly, but it’s budget-friendly, as unlike paid ads or traditional advertising, you’re using an unpaid channel to spread awareness.

While it may seem easy to just write a release and send it to the media, there are a few elements involved in writing one that grabs the attention of journalists or editors. 

We'll look at the the 6 key steps you need to create a great press release to promote your business.

  1. Know your audience
  2. Brainstorm an angle or hook
  3. Create a great headline
  4. Condense key information
  5. Include a quote
  6. Create a boilerplate
Press Release Template

Know your audience

Like any marketing strategy, you need to know your audience when crafting a press release. Who do you want to talk to?

Plus you need to know the readership of any news outlet or publication to determine whether they a) have an interest in your story and b) attract the type of audience you are looking for. 

For example, if you are launching a new branch or outlet in an area, your best bet is to target local media. Chances are a national newspaper will have very little interest in the story. Or if you are looking to target a certain demographic e.g. female and over 35 then look for publications with that as their core audience.  

If your audience is niche then look at niche publications. So if you’re a car dealership, auto or car publications will be the perfect fit and will target the audience you are looking to appeal to. 

Note: Make sure to include traditional and online press in your target list as both these will have different audiences and reach.

Brainstorm an angle or hook

News outlets get hundreds of press releases every day so you need to make yours stand out. If you’re promoting a new product, don’t just focus on the product as that’s often not exciting, unless it’s revolutionary or has a global appeal like McDonald’s.

Announcements that are newsworthy include:

  • A new product or service
  • A merger or acquisition
  • A partnership or sponsorship of a local business, sports event or charity
  • A new hire or company promotion
  • An award win
  • A company rebrand or expansion
  • Hosting an event or hosting a contest
  • Original research or survey results

The key to creating an angle or hook for your release is to look at what impact or solution it will bring. 

For example, if you are launching a new product, how will it change or improve people’s lives? How is it different from what’s already out there on the market? Who will it benefit most e.g. people with disabilities, expectant mothers, etc.?

The media will only pick up on stories that appeal to their audience. This could be from an emotional perspective or if it’s of interest to a large number of people. 

Tip: Brainstorm and make a list of the features and/or impact of your news. Why would someone care about it? Why do you care about it? Is there an emotional aspect to it? This will help you to craft an interesting angle.

Create a great headline

Just like a great email, a great press release requires an interesting headline. It should encapsulate exactly what you are announcing but be concise and attention-grabbing. 

A great headline should:

  • Be short and enticing (10 words is enough!)
  • Focus on the announcement
  • Avoid cliche or hyperbole
  • Use action verbs
  • Be specific and relevant to your audience

Here’s an example from Kraft Heinz on the launch of a new competition seeking out the ‘First-Ever Head Burger Artist’. 

Heinz ‘First-Ever Head Burger Artist’
Heinz ‘First-Ever Head Burger Artist’

This headline works because it makes you stop and want to read it again. The phrase ‘Head Burger Artist’ is innovative and will appeal to a wide audience even as a conversation piece. Plus it’s the first time the company has done it. Notice they also use ‘Is Searching’ which adds an air of intrigue and anticipation to the headline. 

Rising social media platform, TikTok focuses on a more niche audience - ‘small businesses’ - in its release, shown below, but the headline shows the value or what they are offering immediately. It uses a new study to drive interest and includes a video - the very thing it's famous for - in the body content. 

TikTok press release
TikTok press release

Free template to download

Condense key information

The point of a press release is to whet a journalist’s appetite. Avoid putting everything into the release, otherwise, if they follow up with you, there will be very little information to add!

However, you also want to provide enough information so the outlet can run with it without contacting your company. Ideally, your press release consists of 2-3 paragraphs and one of those should be a quote from the most relevant and informed (in this area) person in the business. If you have a PR department or agency, they can do the work for you. 

An effective strategy is to put the most important information first so this can be picked out straight away. Then follow that with accompanying (or less important) information to expand on your announcement. 

Bullet points are also helpful as they help journalists pick out pertinent information quickly. Including stats or figures is also a good idea as facts and figures are popular in the media and help to convey a message to an audience quickly. This example from Meta uses ‘Key Takeaways’ to provide media with the most important points quickly.

Facebook takeaway press release
Facebook takeaway press release

Another example below was to announce DMI’s partnership with Neil Patel Digital in the creation of a new Search Marketing course. As you can see the opening paragraph focuses on the partnership itself and shows the benefit of it ‘building people’s careers’ followed by quotes from both parties. 

DMI and Neil Patel press release
DMI and Neil Patel press release

Include a quote

As touched on in the point above, you should include a quote in your press release. This will allow you to outline the reason/s behind your announcement and its importance to your audience and company. 

If you do not have a PR representative, then choose an individual in the business that’s best placed to speak about the content of your release. It could be worth getting media training for relevant staff so they know how to respond to and speak with the media.  

Keep the quote short and relevant to the announcement. This is your opportunity to humanize your brand and share its impact on your company and more importantly your audience. 

Focus on the benefits or the opportunity (if let’s say it’s a competition like Kraft Heinz above). Remember, this could be the part that journalists pull out so make sure it has impact and resonance. 

This example from a press release on Apple Fitness+ highlighted the benefits to the user.  

“Walking is the most popular physical activity in the world, and one of the healthiest things we can do for our bodies. A walk can often be more than just exercise: It can help clear the mind, solve a problem, or welcome a new perspective,” said Jay Blahnik, Apple’s senior director of Fitness Technologies.

Apple press release
Apple press release

Create a boilerplate

Each press release should include ‘boilerplate’ text that provides standard information about your company or brand. This is not the most exciting part of a press release, but it is important as it provides a snapshot of your company to media outlets. 

You can create a boilerplate that focuses on the USPs of your company. It could include information such as:

  • Your founding date and location
  • Your products or services
  • Your mission
  • Any major awards or milestones

You should include a CTA at the end such as your website hyperlink and contact information for editors. Here’s an example from Dominos

Dominos boilerplate
Dominos boilerplate

What’s next for your press release?

Now that you’ve crafted a great press release, it’s time to share it with the media. You can find contact lists for media outlets online through a Google search, LinkedIn or online directories. Search by geography, industry, or media type to narrow your list down as there are thousands of publications out there. It’s about finding relevant publications that you can build a relationship with. 

Make a list or spreadsheet of key publications and journalists or editors so you can track where you send the release.

Need convincing that press releases work? Warner Leisure Hotels created a gin dubbed ‘Anti-aGin’ that contained collagen, antioxidants and ‘skin-healing’ botanicals to help ‘reduce cellulite and sun damage’. The stunt resulted in 1,000 pieces of global coverage and the gin selling out online in 24 hours! 

Good luck! 

Clodagh O’Brien
Clodagh O’Brien

Clodagh O'Brien is a content creator and strategist. Over the last 12 years, she has created and managed content for many SMEs and global brands. She's passionate about digital marketing and the impact of technology on culture and society. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.  

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