How to Write a Press Release that Earns You Press Coverage in 2021 (w/ Real Examples)

SparkAmpLab Editorial Team
June 28, 2021

I believe when most people type ‘press release example’ into Google, they do not just want to learn how to write a press release. The underlying question that they have is: how do I get my press release published?

If you’re wondering the same thing, then you’re in the right place. 

Here is a quick answer for you: you don’t necessarily need press releases in order to earn press coverage. There are other ways to achieve the same results, without the level of effort needed for writing a good press release. 

Pitching, for example, is an efficient way for businesses/startups that are looking for media placements but are just starting out. That being said, press release writing is still something marketers and business owners should master as their businesses continue to grow. As companies grow to a certain scale, they would need an official communication channel to communicate with their stakeholders and the general public. That’s when press releases come in handy.

If you happen to be a tech company and startup like us, we have some brilliant tech press release and startup press release examples for you.

What you'll get in this guide:

Plus, lots of real press release samples.

As usual, let's start with the basics first. 

What is a Press Release?

According to Hubspot, a press release is an official announcement that an organization issues to the news media and beyond. It is usually sent to journalists and editors who may use the information to write a news article - a desired result for organizations that hope to utilize news media’ bigger platforms to engage with potential audiences and social proof their brands. 

Press releases should be written in a certain format and maintain a serious tone. Don’t turn press releases into one of your marketing collateral. 

Why is a Press Release Still Relevant in 2021?

Some may argue that as social media quickly becomes the main communication channel between brands and their fans and customers, do businesses still need press releases in 2021?

“Can’t we simply make the announcement on our social channels?” This is a question we get asked over and over again by our customers. 

But the thing is, with press coverage, it is more than just free publicity for a business. There is an often neglected ‘social proof’* portion of it. Being featured on Forbes, The New York Times, or TechCrunch, says something about your business. This kind of endorsement is the social proof that customers, partners, or even potential investors are looking for when they consider brands to work with or buy from.  

What’s more, with a company’s own social channels, it can only reach so many people. Getting coverage through press releases is an alternative way to reach more audiences who may be interested in your brands, service, and products without realizing it before. 

We have also seen companies strategically use PR marketing to gain media exposure prior to entering a foreign market.

In addition, as more digital/online media take out print media, there is an ever growing demand for good stories since spot is no longer a consideration.

Note: What is social proof? According to CXL, social proof is based on the idea of normative social influence, which states that people will conform in order to be liked by, similar to, or accepted by the influencer (or society). Essentially, it’s borrowing third-party influence to sway potential customers.

Who is Responsible for Writing Press Releases?

If you found this piece through online searches, then you can probably guess what I’m about to share. 

The answer is it depends. If you work for a larger organization, there will be PR-related positions or even a whole department dedicated to managing public relations. Usually, people from the PR department are responsible for writing and distributing press releases. In most cases, they will also work with a PR agency to handle some of the work.

However, it’s clearly not the case for most people who are searching online to find press release guides and examples. You may be a marketer who has just been assigned to write a press release for an upcoming event or a startup company founder who has no budget for PR hires and decided to do it yourself.

That’s ok, this is what this guide is for. Read on if you want to get more tips and discover the best practices for press release writing.

Press Release Format and Template

You may ask, now that I understand the importance of a press release, how do I actually structure my press releases? As Publicize puts it, ‘the exact structure of a press release is always determined by what you’re actually announcing. For example, a startup launch will differ from a new partnership. But whatever it is you’re announcing, always follow a recognizable press release format.’

So, before jumping right into crafting a press release, it’s important to understand its format first.  As mentioned, press releases are written based on a clearly defined format, and not following it may risk being labeled as unprofessional by journalists. 

Think of the press release format as a common language that companies use to talk to journalists and editors. Journalists are so used to the format that it’s unlikely they will accept a piece of content that looks completely different.

Here are the 8 key elements of a press release:

1. Headline

Did you know that more often than not a press release’s headline already depicts its fate? 

With dozens of (if not more) press releases and pitches sent to their inboxes everyday, journalists often have to make split second decisions on whether to read/use a press release based on its headline. That’s why quite often the suggestions you’ll get for writing a good release is to write a good headline first, making a killer first impression. 

So what does a good press release headline look like?

  • Concise and to-the-point, clearly pointing out the newsworthy aspect of the story
  • Consider adding figures, if possible 
  • Don’t fill it with empty words or use too many adjectives

Good Press Release Headline Examples:

2. News Location and Newspeg in Opening Line

The purpose is simple. Let journalists know where the news is taking place. 

The date here indicates the date the announcement is made or the date of the news event.

Remember ‘timeliness’ as one of the seven news values? The distribution date here reminds us of the fact that journalists are only concerned with what has happened today or events that are about to happen. Avoid sending press releases to journalists about events that have already taken place.   

Example:

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3. Introduction (commonly referred to as the Lead)

The lead is the second most important press release element after the headline and should get right to the point. A compelling lead not only summarizes a release’s highlights but also provides a hook that encourages journalists to continue reading.  

In most cases, journalists don’t have time to read an entire press release, which is why you want to consider using the inverted pyramid method in your press release writing. 

The inverted pyramid method
Image courtesy of ahrefs.com

Start with what they ‘need to know’ by including the most newsworthy information in your lead. You want to get your message across in the first ten seconds when journalists skim through your headline and first paragraph. 

To do that, use the lead to clearly answer the 5w1h - "who", "what", "why", "where", “when” and “how”. 

They almost certainly will not bother to continue reading if they find the lead difficult to understand and not newsworthy. So keep your release free of industry jargon. Find a newsworthy angle. Don’t give them a reason to hit the back button and go on reading someone else’s press release!

4. Body (quotes, paragraph, bulleted facts or figures)

In the body paragraphs, provide supporting details to elaborate on the points mentioned in the lead. For a product launch press release, this is where you explain the technologies used to develop the product. 

Quotes and bullet points are useful when writing the body paragraphs. Quotes give the release a personal touch while bulleted facts are best used to present research findings or product specs. 

A few example of quotes include: 

Executives’ take on company’s latest announcement
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Partners’ endorsement on the newly agreed upon partnership
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5. Call To Action

What should journalists do next after reading your press release? You tell them!

Example:

Source

6. Boilerplate

What is a boilerplate? G2 defines it as: In public relations, a boilerplate (also known as an “about us” statement) is a short, standardized paragraph at the end of a press release that provides journalists with a high-level background on your company. 

Now that we understand boilerplate’s meaning and purpose, let’s look at some well-written boilerplate examples. 

Examples:


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7. Media Contact Details

Media contact refers to ‘who’ journalists should contact to request responses if they have follow-up questions based on the release. The name(s) put down here is usually someone from the PR team as they’re more experienced in interacting with the media.

Example:

Source

How To Write a Press Release in 5 Steps

Here’s your step-by-step guide on how to craft a well-written press release:

A note to our fellow startups: The process and steps are exactly the same for writing a killer startup press release!

Step 1: Decide On The Announcement

Ask yourself, what is it that you want to announce?

You may be wondering, of course I know what I want to announce, what else would I be writing a press release for? But think again, does this announcement really suffice writing a press release for? Are there other ways to convey the same message that’s more cost-effective such as via social channels or cold pitching? 

If the answer to the first question is a simple yes, then get ready for the preparation phase.

Oftentimes, you need as much time for preparation as for writing. Preparation here means gathering information, data, and quotes from other departments or relevant stakeholders to base your release on. 

Some PR pros might even argue that this step is more challenging than the actual writing process itself. Why? Because effective communication and support from other parties are crucial to the success. If you can’t get the information/alignment you need, you won’t be able to continue to the next steps.

  • What’s the announcement about?
  • Who will be involved? (parties to provide data, quotes, etc)
  • When is the intended distribution date?

Scenario:

Let’s say the company you work for is planning for a product launch next month and you, a junior marketer at a tech startup, are assigned to draft the release. In order to kick start the process, you first need to align with executives and stakeholders on the announcement to be made. 

Next, you may need to talk to the R&D and marketing team to gather information regarding the new product, such as technological advancements or marketing/sales number forecast. Here some back and forth may be expected as the information they provide might not be what you’re looking for. That’s why as the person who acts as the bridge between company and media, you need to take time to digest the information and turn it into a meaningful story, which leads us to the second step.  

Step 2: Identify A Newsworthy Approach

Here are some tips to make your press release ‘newsworthy’.

1. Exclusive Story

Journalists love exclusive stories. If you happen to have a really good story, let’s say a funding announcement, and you want to try your luck with major publications. Instead of broadcasting it to everyone on the media list, consider approaching one journalist/publication at a time and see if they are willing to break the news for you. 

Never offer an exclusive to more than one journalist at a time. When you reach out, make the offer (including how long it lasts) clear. If you didn’t receive any response after the deadline (for example, 48 hours), then you can move on to the next journalist at a different publication.

Here is a quick tip provided by Publicize regarding your pitch email title:

Exclusive for [Journalist’s name] – [Title of press release]

By emphasizing the story’s exclusiveness, this method helps increase the worthiness of the story in the eyes of the journalists and thus the chances of them picking it up.  

One of our users, an AI martech startup, successfully landed an interview with Business Insider back in 2020 using this method. 

2. Data / Research

Journalists also love stories that are backed by data. Here is a good example. 

The company Owl Labs, another SparkAmplify user, has conducted several surveys and research regarding remote working trends in the past three years. Here is their latest press release on post pandemic hybrid workforce. 

According to Google, in 2020 alone, the company’s research was mentioned by more than a dozen of news media, including ZDNet, Entrepreneur, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, etc. 

Pretty impressive, right?

This is the power of data and research in driving positive press coverage for a company.

3. Tap Into Current Trends

With all the raw materials and data gathered from Step 1, now it’s time for the PR person to work the magic - find angles that’s relevant to what’s currently being reported in the news, especially the niche that you’re targeting.

When it comes to PR, how information or the message is presented matters. If journalists can’t see a clear connection between your story and what they’re working on/following now, there is a slim chance they will adopt the story. 

What we recommend is: before writing anything, do a quick search on Google using specific keywords (e.g. martech startups + launch) to understand what interests the media now, and more importantly, the angles they took when reporting on the news. 

Ask yourself: 

  • What’s happening in my industry? 
  • Anything that I can take advantage of? 

Step 3: Write Your Headline, Lead, Body Paragraphs

Here is a quick recap of things to keep in mind when crafting press release headline, lead, and body paragraphs. For more information please go back to the Press Release Format section.

  • Headline needs to be concise, keep free of marketing terms or too many adjectives 
  • Use 5w1h method to compose the Lead and make it right to the point
  • Body paragraphs should include quotes, data, etc 

In addition, the length of a press release is usually one page long. Press releases should only contain the most relevant information. Don’t try to stuff your release with too many details. If journalists are interested in learning more regarding certain aspects mentioned in the release, they will reach out. 

It's also a good practice to include the company logo in press releases, making it look more professional and visually appealing. The logo is usually placed at the upper right hand corner.

Step 4: Get Media Kit Ready

First, what’s a media kit? A media kit or press kit is a document containing information about your business, product or event. They are primarily utilized by journalists and are typically known as a “one stop shop” for media when they need quick access to information.

What should be included in a media kit? It depends, but some common items include: press releases, visuals/videos, company profile and executive bios, etc.

Terms like media kit and press kit are often used interchangeably, however, G2 points out a key difference as below:

A media kit is a general overview of your brand, while a press kit is necessary information for immediate coverage on a timely event. 

In this case, a press kit is used at events and for launches as a package of information for journalists to help them write their story. 

Step 5: Distribute!

Now that we’ve introduced ways to increase a press release’s newsworthiness, and thus its chances of getting picked up, another important step to gain press coverage lies in the distribution process. 

Even a perfectly written press release could still end up getting no placements. Why? One possibility is that it’s sent to the wrong audience. In our PR outreach guide, we talked about how important identifying a journalist’s beat is to the overall success of an outreach campaign. 

If a press release is about the tech industry, then don’t send it to the finance journalists who are also on your list. Based on our own experience, quality is often more important than quantity. It is also good for your company’s reputation too. Let journalists remember your brand as the source that always sends interesting and relevant stuff.

How do you check if a media list is relevant? Check out at least three to four journalists who are on the list and read their latest articles. After this practice, you will get a better idea on whether he or she is the right audience. However, a better way is to organize your media lists based on beats in the first place instead of one huge list, saving you the trouble of having to go through the list every time you need to use it.

On top of that, most PR pros often go the extra mile: they don’t mass distribute their press releases, instead they write personalized pitches/emails to individual journalists or at least a smaller group of journalists to provide engaging and relevant angles that they think will interest the audience in mind. 

Related Article: How to write a perfect media pitch with 4 questions - Automated Pitch Email Generation

The biggest takeaway here is you need to decide whether you want to go after quality or quantity as this will determine your targeting and distribution approach. 

If you choose quality, then consider sending customized pitches alongside your press release to a targeted media list (usually your own media lists or from self-serve outreach platforms like SparkAmplify).

If you would like to go for quantity for now, let's say you were just starting out and wanted as much exposure as possible, then you can choose to self-publish your press release onto a newswire service, free or paid, such as PR Newswire, Business Wire, PR Times, etc. This kind of press release submission and distribution services usually only allow you to select media lists based on categories, which in some cases might be a bit broad.

8 Most Common Types of Press Releases

In case you haven’t written a press release before, you may be wondering when is a good time to do it. Here are the eight most common press release types that you should start considering for your next big announcement:

  • New Product Launches
  • Mergers and Acquisitions 
  • Product Updates
  • Events
  • New Partnerships
  • Rebranding
  • Executive Promotions/Hiring
  • Awards

Examples:

Press Release Example for New Product


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Product Updates Press Release Example
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Mergers and Acquisitions Press Release Example
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Partnership Press Release Example
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Hiring Press Release Example
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Award Press Release Example
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Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoy the read and feel free to share your thoughts or questions with us. You can reach us via success@sparkamplify.com

Resources - Press Release Template & Sites

Here's a complete free release template for reference: Sample Company Press Release Temple

Some press release sites to follow and find inspiration:

PR Newswire

Open PR

PR Underground

OnlinePR

Cision PRWeb

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