What is a press release?

The definition of a press release and some common misconceptions

A press release can increase your brand awareness, convey important information, and even improve your SEO. It can be one of the most cost-effective ways to get media coverage, but before crafting, let’s get down to some nitty-gritty. In this article, we’ll walk you through not only some examples and generic outlines of a press release but also a media alert that will provide you more integrated understandings of what they are and when to use them. First, let’s kick off with a press release.

Press release is not an advertisement

A press release is an official condensed resource document used to share information with the media for an announcement of a new company, product, funding, partnership, or any other content related to your organization. It should be timely, accurate, and newsworthy that appeals to the interest of both journalists and your target audiences. A press release is NOT an ad, whether you’re writing for your product launch or an award announcement, always keeps an objective tone and avoids hype flags and direct addresses such as we, you, and I.

Press release vs. media alert

Another frequently asked question is the difference between a press release and a media alert, and knowing when to use which will make your PR much more efficient and credible. A media alert serves as an invitation to the media for an event such as a tradeshow, summit, or press conference, therefore it’s information rich but narrative light, while a press release contains much richer narrative detail of a story. For example, a simple summit announcement that doesn’t require much communication is perfect for a media alert without being overkill, while a new collaboration that will drastically shift the company’s direction merits a press release.

Media alert outline

  1. Headline: Ideally, the headline should summarize everything in a clear and compelling manner. Begin with MEDIA ALERT with large fonts all in bold capital letters to make sure it stands out.
  2. Sub headline: Provide more detailed information relevant to the headline.
  3. Introductory paragraph: Summarize the event within sentences to keep it focused and concise as well as appealing enough to convince journalists to participate.
  4. Who: Who’s hosting and coming to the event? Include anyone that is considered crucial to this event, especially those who will spark journalist interests and likely to get interviewed.
  5. What: What is this event all about.
  6. Where: Literally where the event takes place.
  7. When: The time when the event starts and ends.
  8. Contact info: Very important, so the journalists can reach you.

Media Alert Example

Media Alert Example

Press release outline

The following is the generic structure for your press release, therefore you don’t have to use all of the components and should draft your press release depending on your situation. Don’t worry if you still find writing a press release intimidating; we’ll discuss further details about how to write a press release and guide you step by step later on. For now, just lay back and get some general ideas of the big picture.

  1. Letterhead or logo:To help identify the press release is from your organization.
  2. Headline: Just like a media alert, the headline should be clear and irresistible.
  3. Sub headline: Same as above, provides more elaborate detail for the headline.
  4. Lead paragraph: Summarize the 5Ws of who, what, when, where and why in this paragraph.
  5. 2nd paragraph: This serves as a supportive section for the first paragraph.
  6. 1st quote: Placed towards the top, usually from a high-level stakeholder like the founder or CEO.
  7. Trend: This is where you tie in the current or future trend with your news to demonstrate why it is relevant and important at this moment.
  8. 2nd quote: Placed within the body, serves as a third party validation from an investor, partner, or a customer’s testimonial.
  9. Call to action: The next step you wish the reader to take, like visiting your website or booking the event.
  10. Boilerplate: Intro of your company.

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Now that you know what a press release and a media alert are, and when to use them on different occasions to improve your public relations and establish credibility, let’s dive into the next step: Press Release 101 part2: How to Write a Press Release_Preparation.

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