Press Release Writing Tips – What is a Press Release

For the month of August we will be focusing on providing tips for writing effective and impactful press releases.

Each post will focus on one aspect of a press release, beginning with today’s post, in which we go back to the basics, and explain exactly what a press release is, and what differentiates it from other promotional materials, such as marketing copy or blog posts, and other newsworthy items such as articles or news stories.

Pat Wootton at Prompt Proofing covered this topic extensively in her blog post, What exactly is a press release?

Using some of her advice and some of our own, we have provided the following bullet points to keep in mind next time you’re sitting down to compose a press release for your company, product, service or website:

  • A press release is NOT an advert. It should steer clear of overly promotional statements such as “Buy now!” – if we receive press releases with statements such as these we will usually request that the customer rewrite the release, or it will be rejected for distribution.
  • However, a press release is also NOT a news piece. It is not written by an objective third party – it is written by you, the company owner (or perhaps employee, or marketing rep) and therefore it naturally does have a bias. There is no point in hiding this; it will appear deceitful. Rather, use a writing voice that shows that you are representing the company but just steer clear of making too many claims of greatness. Let the reader make up their own mind about your product or service by simply providing the facts. In this way, the fact that you have a bias will work for you rather than against you, because readers will understand that no one knows the facts about a product or service better than the company offering it!
  • The key to ensuring your release is not too promotional is to keep it informative. You want to offer details and information about your company’s products/services rather than push people into buying them. Through educating the reader, if your product or service is what they’re looking for, you will already have persuaded them to buy! But remember your audience too – one of the main purposes of a press release is to drive traffic to your site. Therefore, you’re not always writing to your direct customer, but rather just to spread the word about your company to gain awareness and improve your SEO. Therefore, selling should not be your main focus with a press release.
  • A press release is NOT an informative article, either. Those are published to article directories online and are usually a minimum of 400 words. They are in-depth studies of specific topics, rather than press releases. You want to keep press releases under 350 words, ideally. This keeps the reader’s attention and will also help you avoid any overage fees from distribution services with word limits.

Using these tips will help you get started on writing a great release while understanding, hopefully, what exactly a press release is. When you write a release in the proper format and tone, news sites are much more likely to pick up your release for publication.