4 tips for writing compelling press releases

PR pros are tasked with effectively telling their clients’ stories and getting them in print, and these ideas will help you accomplish just that. 

Press releases used to be the primary tool of the PR practitioner’s toolbox.

Some companies still use them to measure the value of the PR program: how many go out, how many outlets pick them up and how many impressions they get.

In today’s digital environment, there’s a thousand different ways to tell a story and a hundred different platforms, so you really need to consider if the press release is the right tool for the news you’re putting out.

If the answer is yes, the challenge for communications executives is how to write compelling messages that succinctly tell a brand’s story.

Many of our clients, for example, serve a variety of vertical industries and may have a lot of products and services—or a very complex technology. The tendency is to go really deep and provide a lot of information, but it is important to keep our brand’s stories simple and clear.

Here are five ways to make your client’s stories stand out in a press release:

1. Make sure it’s newsworthy. Are you putting out a new product, launching a new business unit or releasing data?

If it is of interest to a large number of people and it’s market moving, you probably have something for a press release. If it’s a bit humdrum or not applicable to a large number of people, write a guest post or social media update instead.

2. Share interesting insights. At Affect, we place more emphasis on thought-leadership or trend releases.

You may be required to put out a press release about your latest version of software, but what may be more interesting to the audience is predictions, tips, industry insights and survey results—things that matter to that industry’s professionals.

The one caveat: If you work for a public company, you may have to put out press releases about smaller items so you can communicate with your shareholders.

But that doesn’t mean you have to pitch the press release. Always consider if you should pitch it to the media, or if you would be best served by just putting it on your website.

3. Explain the big picture. Start with a very simple, overarching explanation of what the company does.

Do you sell a product, or service? How does it work, and why would a reader care? Don’t be vague; really explain it.

4. Keep things simple. Keep discussion of how your technology or products and services work at a high level, and don’t go too far into the weeds.

Also assume readers are not industry executives. Don’t use a lot of jargon, acronyms, buzzwords or meaningless phrases.

You want to make sure that your company story is very clear and easy to understand whether the person works in the industry or it’s someone on the street.

What other tips do you have for writing a press release that demands attention?

Melissa Baratta is the vice president of Affect. A version of this story originally appeared on the firm’s YouTube channel, here and here.


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