Press Release: Purpose and Guide

19 January 2022
by Archie Williamson
5 mins
Press Release: Purpose and Guide

A press release is a concise and informative official statement about a news story delivered to the media. Brands use press releases to make announcements and communicate noteworthy developments with the aim of securing press coverage online. This makes it an excellent tool for public relations, brand building and SEO.

Press releases are generally reserved for bigger announcements related to a company. While they will be brand-focused, press releases can double as a form of inbound marketing. You still want to offer value, insights and information that is useful for a target audience, even if the tone, style and delivery is slightly different to a traditional organic blog or news article.

Best use cases for a press release?

Press releases are best reserved for specific situations and developments that warrant more fanfare than a daily or weekly blog. Best use cases include:

  • New product launches – Announcing a new product, with details about what makes it unique, its specs, pricing and availability.
  • Company updates – Announcing a merger or acquisition, or any other organisational change that will impact customers, stakeholders and growth prospects.
  • Events – Announcing the details about an upcoming event, where it will be held, who can attend and why it is important.
  • Awards – Announcing any awards your company has received for a product, project or employee excellence.
  • Initiatives – Announcing any new initiatives that your company has undertaken, why they are important and the impact they will have internally and externally.
  • Rebranding – Announcing a rebrand with details about what is changing and why, with quotes about the future of the company from leaders and managers.
  • Research results – Announcing the results of recent first-party research, what they mean and why they are important for your industry.
  • Crises – Announcing information about a crisis, what you are doing to ease the problem and how you can help customers.

Where are press releases sent?

You can publish a press release on your website, but its impact will be diminished if you don’t leverage a variety of different channels to deliver it to as many media outlets, vendors, prospects and customers as possible. Press releases are an extension of PR and require a much broader reach than other forms of content. Unlike traditional content marketing, you are not waiting for people to read releases when the time is right for them – you need to force the issue. You can distribute them via:

  • Syndication services.
  • Media contacts.
  • Email lists.
  • Agency networks.

Syndication services can amplify the reach of your press release, as they already have an established distribution network, which will include media and companies that are operating or interested in your industry and the topic that you are covering in your press release. PR Newswire is one of the most popular syndication services and claims to drive a 48% increase in media pickup for press releases.

Next, you can take a look at your company’s media contacts, select relevant publications for the topic and then send the press releases over. If you have a lengthy contacts list, this is a great way to save time and get content in the right hands quickly. Finally, you can run through your email list, or find new ones, and start sending personalised communications manually with the press release attached. Outreach emails can pitch stories and give media outlets ideas about how they can use information in a press release.

What’s the best way to create a press release?

Now you have a purpose for your press release and channels lined up to distribute it, but who exactly should write it? Content can be written by an in-house PR team or if you don’t have the expertise available internally, it can be outsourced to an SEO agency. Partnering with a third party has further benefits as you can also tap into an agency’s network of contacts to distribute the press release.

Before crafting a press release, you can brainstorm a few ideas based around several core guidelines. A press release should:

  • Have a clear point of focus in the form of a single newsworthy idea, such as a product, event or service.
  • Be succinct and concise in form, with a maximum word count of around 500 words.
  • Avoid blatant promotions and exaggerated statements like “world’s best”.
  • Convey the news value to the media, getting to the point quickly about why they should care about this particular announcement.
  • Feature two high-quality quotes that offer insights.
  • Provide valuable background information near the end.

To differentiate from standard articles, a press release is written with a specific structure to make it clear to the press what it is. You will also have to select a format to host the content, dependent on how you plan to distribute it, before you begin. The PDF format is popular as it can be posted on your site and attached to introductory emails. Interactive press releases are more advanced, with hyperlinked text and images, which can make them more engaging.

Can press releases support SEO campaigns?

The quality of content is what makes an excellent press release, so yes, they can contribute to your SEO strategy and boost your visibility in search engines. When your press release is picked up by media outlets and the information within it is covered by industry news sites, you will attract and engage readers, who will then search for your site. This increases your traffic, clicks and engagement, which can lead to increased sales and then loyal customers.

Press releases can support link building and generating backlinks too. When other sites refer back to yours because they believe it offers value, Google takes notice and this can improve your search engine rankings. You can track your backlinks and other key metrics for your press releases using data and analytics tools such as Google Search Console and Ahrefs.

Press releases are an excellent tool for public relations and content marketing, especially when the situation calls for a more direct, official statement about something your company is excited about. If you need to write one and optimise it for search engines, Atlas SEO can help. Contact us today to find out more about our content creation service.

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