Press releases are a quick and easy means of conveying a message to the media and/or a particular target audience. Any organization that wants to raise brand awareness or enhance its image – whether it’s a small business or an established corporate enterprise – can distribute a press release as a way to inform the wider public. This simple-but-effective form of content distribution is frequently used to make important announcements or highlight a new product or service. Press releases fall under the rubric of earned media, which refers to publicity garnered through promotional means rather than through paid media advertising.
The production of a standard press release typically goes through three stages, all of which are essential to its ultimate success. These three stages include writing the text of the press release; distribution of the press release to a broad range of media outlets; and, ideally, publication of the text, either in whole or in part, by these media outlets, thus ensuring optimal media coverage for the subject of the press release.
In order to achieve the objectives of press release distribution, all three of these stages should be meticulously carried out. Mistakes made in any one of these stages can result in the loss of time and money, and could even damage the delicate relationship between the organization distributing the press release and the media and/or target audience.
The first, and perhaps most important, stage of the process is that in which the text for the press release is written by editors, copywriters or PR professionals. The writer’s primary aim in this regard is to attract the attention of media outlets and persuade them that the information contained in the press release is worthy of publication, either in print or online. Therefore, a good press release should be kept under 500 words to ensure it is read by journalists and editors, who typically don’t have much extra time on their hands. What’s more, a good press release should contain several relevant keywords to ensure that it is prominently displayed in search engine results, thus ensuring optimal visibility.
This stage involves sending your press release to members of the media, often through press release distribution services or an online PR agency. Social media platforms can also be used in this regard with a view to reaching as many readers as possible. During the distribution phase, press releases are not only sent to print media (such as newspapers and magazines), but also to relevant websites and blogs. Remember, the more widely a press release is distributed, the greater its chances of being published – and read – across a diverse range of platforms.
Ideally, a press release will be picked up, either in whole or in part, by a number of news outlets, websites, blogs and social media platforms. This, however, generally depends on a number of different factors. Firstly, press releases should be concise, well-written (no spelling or grammar mistakes!), informative and – above all else – newsworthy. In other words, the information contained in a press release should be interesting, current and not available elsewhere. If the information is not deemed newsworthy, journalists, editors and content managers are much less likely to publish it on their respective platforms.