This guide explains everything you need to know about press releases for your small business or startup. What is a press release (sometimes known as a news release or media release)? Are press releases still relevant? And how to you write a great press release that will get your media coverage, complete with press release examples and top tips.
What is a press release?
A press release is a statement containing information about a newsworthy occurrence that is sent to journalists and editors to supply the details they need to write a news story. Press releases usually come direct from businesses and organisations, or their PR teams. If you’re a small business or startup you can write and distribute your own press releases.
Typically journalists will use press releases to get the key information they need to create their own news story. They may carry out further research to add to their story. And they may interview relevant people to get more insights, or to get audio or video soundbites – especially if it’s for radio or TV.
Is the press release dead?
You might hear some people saying the press release is ‘dead’. It isn’t. If you have a conversation with a journalist or editor to run a potential news story by them, if it’s of interest they’ll probably ask for a press release. That’s because a press release is an official document that contains all the facts, which they can use to write their story.
But just because you write a press release for your business, it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed media coverage. For a press release to be effective, you need to make sure that it’s:
- Well written
- Complete with relevant supporting content (e.g. high resolution, quality photos)
The online PR training course PR Unlocked goes into a lot more detail about what makes a newsworthy story. Generally speaking, you want to make sure your news story is interesting, important, unusual, relevant and/or affects people in some way. You should spend time working out exactly what your news angle is before you start writing your press release.
PR Unlocked also suggests several different business story ideas you can explore for your own small business or startup, or for your clients’ businesses. These could include new product or service launches, new recruits, charity and community partnerships, financial results, and lots more.
How to write a good press release to get featured in the media
Your aim is to write a press release as a news story. You need to write about the who, what, where, when, why, how of your business news story.
Start with the most important points. The first sentence or paragraph should summarise the whole story, with following paragraphs going into more detail about your news story.
It’s a good idea to add some context into your press release too – so what does your business do, when was it founded, any other notable facts that are relevant to the story. You can either weave these in as key messages throughout the press release, add a context paragraph at the end of the media statement, or include the details in the notes to editor section. (See ‘what is a notes to editor section in a press release’ section below…)
Keep the body of the press release factual. You can add opinions, thoughts and insights in quotes. Press releases usually include a quote from a relevant spokesperson. This could be the MD or founder of the business. You could also include a second or third quote from relevant third parties. For example, if your small business press release is about a new partnership or contract, include a quote from a spokesperson from the other business or organisation.
When you write your press release, you should also format it in a certain way so you include the date, a headline and contact details of who journalists and editors should contact for more information.
Press release examples for small businesses
Here are two examples of business press releases from Unhooked Communications. Click on the links to read the text in full.
For more news story examples, you might want to check out. the PR Unlocked online PR training course, which goes into more step-by-step detail about how to write a press release. The course also includes how to write a covering email to go with your press release when you’re sending it to newspapers, magazines, websites, radio or TV. And businesses can also learn how to make sure press releases are the right tactic, how to find journalists’ contact details, how to pitch your news story and follow up to secure media coverage.
Free PR resource: How to write a press release planner
To help you map out all the information you want to include in your press release, we’ve created a free, downloadable press release planner.
To use this free PR resource to help you write a press release you should:
- Click the ‘how to write a press release planner from PR Unlocked’ link below. Download and print the document.
- Write notes in each of the what, who, why, when, where sections of the PR worksheet
- What: What is the story about? What is the main news hook? What’s the main point of interest which will grab the attention of journalists and editors?
- Who: Who is involved in the story? Who does the story affect? Who are you going to quote in the press release?
- Why: Why did the occurrence, event or news story happen? Why is the story important? Why should the media cover it? Why is it of interest to their readers, watchers or listeners?
- When: When is the story taking place or when did it happen?
- Where: Where did the story take place?
- Approvals: Write down the names of everyone who needs to read, review and approve the press release before you send it to the media to make sure all involved parties have signed off the statement.
- Media: Write down the media outlets you want to send the press release to. Make sure you research each media outlet to make sure your news story is the sort of content they cover.
- Photos: Don’t send out press releases to magazines, newspapers or websites unless you’ve got good photographs to go with it, otherwise you might not get any media coverage from your news.
What is a ‘notes to editor’ section in a press release?
It’s good practice to include a notes to editor section at the end of your press release. This can include information that’s useful for the media, but doesn’t need to be included in the actual story.
The notes to editor could include:
- Email and phone number of the relevant PR or business contact
- What additional assets are available (e.g. photographs, video, interviews)
- Logisitcs (e.g. for events – when is the best time for journalists to arrive and who will be available for interview?)
- A short overview of the business or organisation the press release is about
You don’t always need to include a notes to editor section, but you should at least include contact details so journalists and editors know who to contact if they have any questions or want to set up interviews for their articles.
Final considerations when writing your press release
When you’re writing your press release for your small business or startup, you might be really keen to get it sent to the media as soon as possible. But before you start pitching your news to journalists and editors, make sure you maximise your chances of securing media coverage by:
- Thoroughly checking your press release for typos or grammatical errors. Also check it makes sense – get someone else to read it and ask them what the story is about. Do they understand the main points of the story? Do they know who, what, where, when, why?
- Having high resolution, professional photographs that the media can use. You may well find you struggle to get any media coverage for your news stories if you don’t have good images to accompany it. You. need to make sure that photos are in colour and at least 300dpi.
- Get the press release read, reviewed and approved by all relevant parties. If you’re writing a press release on behalf of a client, make sure they sign it off. If you include information or quotes from any other businesses, you need to get their approval too.
- Check that all the information (including facts and figures) are correct. Make sure that you’re not sharing any confidential information which shouldn’t be in the media.
- Don’t send press releases to the media as a PDF – this is a big no no. Either send a word document as an attachment, or copy and paste the press release into the body of an email. Or you could do both. But never, ever send a PDF!
If you want any support with your press release, the PR Unlocked training course covers news stories and pitching stories into the media. The private Facebook group for members offers a safe space to ask for feedback, and you can also ask PR Unlocked founder questions directly on group coaching calls.
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