What is a Press Release and How to Write One

press release on tablet

You’ve heard of them. You know big corporations use them. You know they can give you a ton of publicity. But what is a press release, exactly?

Wikipedia defines a press release as:

“a written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something 
ostensibly newsworthy.”

PRWeb shows the changing nature of this specialized type of article and advocates that they might be more correctly called “news releases” or “media releases” since the internet has drastically changed the world of public relations.

Whether you call it a press release, media release, or news release, the point is they can be very valuable for your business.


  • They can improve your SEO: Online press release distribution creates a lot of high-quality backlinks to your site, and if you publish them on a Media page of your website, they can help you rank well for keywords and timely topics.
  • They increase publicity: With regular releases and a robust distribution strategy, these articles can help you reach a wider audience. Plus, online press releases can be republished verbatim or quoted in print newspapers and magazines for even more publicity.
  • They make you look more professional: National brands publish releases. If you want to look professional and competent, you should send out news releases too.
  • They send more clients and customers your way: Improved SEO, publicity, and professionalism combine to help you make more money.

Now that you know what a press release is and why you should create and distribute them, let’s talk about how to do that effectively.

How to Write an Effective Press Release

News releases have a couple important parts:

1. Headline

Headlines are just as important for press releases as they are for blog posts and emails. Craft a compelling, short, and specific headline to encourage journalists and readers to keep reading.

2. Dateline

The dateline is the first part of the body and establishes the timely relevance of the release. Datelines should look like:

City, State (DISTRIBUTOR) Day, Month and Year

The distributor is the agency or website you use to syndicate your release, such as AP, PRWeb, or a local newswire.

3. Introduction

press release

Also called a “hook” or “lead”, the opening paragraph of your release must provide the specifics of the newsworthy occasion and identify your company. The first 2 or 3 sentences of the introduction may also be used as a summary. Keep these specifics in mind when writing a press release:

  • Who is this release about? Who are the main players?
  • What happened? What’s the event or decision the release is about?
  • When did the event happen? When were the decisions made?
  • Where did the event happen? Where are the decisions taking the company in the future?
  • Why did the event happen or why were the decisions made?
  • How was the event coordinated? How were the decisions implemented?
  • Numbers such as profit, track records, statistics, etc.

4. Body

If the introduction is like the cap of a pyramid--highly specific and right to the meat of the story--the rest of the news release is the body of the pyramid, building up the foundation that led to the event or decision mentioned in the hook. The most important specifics appear in the lead, but the details leading to those specifics and other supporting information (such as relevant numbers) appear in the body.

5. Boilerplate

This section is a standard “about” paragraph for the company or person issuing the release. It’s very short--a few sentences at most--and should be consistent across all press releases. The boilerplate generally addresses:

  • Name of the company or person
  • When the company was founded and by whom
  • What the business does

6. Media Contact Information

The contact information of the public relations director for your company, including:

  • name
  • mailing address
  • phone number
  • email address
  • company website

In addition to getting all the right parts, there are a few pointers to keep in mind to make your media release successful.

First, remember that journalists don’t really care about your company, so don’t brag about your company. Make sure your release is timely, valuable, and actually newsworthy.

Second, don’t write for search engines if you’re distributing news releases online. Try to use a main keyword in the title and throughout the release if you can, but focus on providing value for journalists and readers.

Finally, encourage readers to visit your site for more information at the end of the release. You can even include a link to a specific page where they can learn more or download a related free offer.

For pointers on writing an effective press release, check out these posts from PRWeb about formatting press releases and writing successful releases.

Now you know what a press release is and how to write one. Go forth and conquer!

Have you used press releases? What tips worked for you? Please share in the comments!