A press release is a short, compelling news story written by a public relations professional and sent to targeted members of the media. The goal of all press releases is to pique the interest of journalists or publications. The press release should contain all the essential information (who? what? where? when? how? and most importantly why?) for the journalist to easily produce his own story.
The Small Business Encyclopedia defines press releases — also known as news releases — as “brief, printed statements that outline the major facts of a news story in journalistic style” [source: Answers.com]. A press release should read like a news story, written in third-person, citing quotes and sources and containing standard press release information.
When something notable happens in your business, you want to announce it, whether it is an awesome new hire or the lowdown on an annual event you’re sponsoring. However, press releases aren’t just about sending something to PRNewswire for media attention. They are also a way for you to market on Facebook, Twitter, and on your blog.
The standard press releases begin with contact information, mostly likely the name, phone number and e-mail address of the person who wrote the release. Then comes the headline, arguably the most important four or five words in the whole press release. The headline will be what the journalist reads first. If it’s not intriguing, newsworthy and unique, he’ll read no further.
Press releases typically end with a short description of the company or organization that’s issuing the release, along with a call to action. The call to action could be to participate in the event being promoted, to take a test drive of the product, or simply to find out more by contacting the author of the press release
Press releases are also a great way to appear professional. When customers, clients and job applicants research you, your website gives a good impression if you have a slate of well-written and informative press releases.