Writing a press release

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How does a good press release get written?

Journalists often research their own reporting from press releases. Therefore, your press material should be meeting certain criteria, so media professionals notice and include it in their own coverage. The most important basics for this and how to write a good press release have been summarised here.

Content production
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What is a press release?

A press release provides information to the media and public. Its primary target group is journalists. They decide whether the story is editorially relevant and if it will receive news coverage. A press release comes very close to the classic news items that journalists themselves pen. They answer the most important Wh-questions (Who? When? Where? What? Why?) already in the first paragraph, the teaser, and should be formulated in that way.

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Preparing a press release

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Press releases define the core message and objective

The goal of a press release is to get the public’s attention. Therefore, it will be the media representatives in editorial offices that will be your multipliers. You have to convince them with your message. So, your core message has to be clearly formulated. Doing so makes it easier for journalists to understand the information the press release provides. This also helps you draw the media’s attention to those aspects of the press release most important to you. Your press release’s headline should therefore also mention the core message. Examples of such key messages are the launch of a new product or service, a major management appointment or an award.

Question mark

Which topics work best in a press release?

Your press release will likely attract media attention if it has news value. Media professionals always have “news factors” in the back of their heads. Such factors are timeliness, relevance, prominence, and unexpectedness. If your press release has at least one of them, it has a higher probability of getting noticed by the media.

Occasions for communication could be current figures from the annual report, winning a new customer, a service anniversary, a merger with another company, product announcement or event.

Group of people

Targeting your press release

It is critical to precisely define your target group in order to reach the right journalists in the editorial offices. Offering them topics that matches their background or job description makes these media professionals’ work easier and increases the likelihood of them accepting your press and public relations work. Target groups can be enthusiasts or professionals in the field, your clients, competitors or even the other people employed at your company. Maybe only certain sectors may have an interest in your content, it can just be of local interest or even internationally relevant.

So, researching the media landscape is crucial for you and your topics. Find out which editors in what media write about them.

Get to know how the media you are targeting work and what their requirements for press material are. The timing of your key media is also important. Depending on how often they publish, editorial conferences are held daily, weekly or just monthly. This is important to know because it is at these conferences where the next issue’s topics are determined. Finally, when it involves print media, you should know the editorial deadlines. These vary greatly depending on the publication schedule for the newspaper or magazine. Daily newspapers are (naturally) published every day, while weekly magazines go to press two to five days before they are scheduled for release. On the other hand, professional journals and trade magazines are often only published every six to eight weeks and the editorial deadline is between one and two weeks prior to publication.


Structure of a press release

As a rule, a press release usually consists of a headline, an introduction (lead or teaser) and the actual text, a boilerplate and the press contact.

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Headline – short, succinct and to the point

The headline is the most important component of any press release and determines if your press release is ever going to be read at all. It is of such great consequence because people in editorial offices have only a few seconds to decide, due to the sheer volume of press material that reaches their desks every day, whether to read on or not. So, it should be brief and concise.


Teaser, lead or introduction

The introduction (also called lead or teaser) contains the most significant facts. It should arouse the reader’s curiosity and encourage him or her to read on. Here you answer the earlier mentioned Wh-questions (who, what, when, where, how, and why). This lets you describe the news item’s core statements and give your readers the opportunity to grasp quickly whether the news item is relevant to them. The lead needs to be no more than between three and five sentences long.

What are the Wh-questions?

  • Who has done/wants to do something?
  • What happened/should be happening?
  • When did it happen/should it be happening?
  • Where did it happen/should it be happening?
  • How did it happen/will it be happening?
  • Why did it happen/should it be happening?

Other paragraphs

The main body of your press release, which can be from the second to fifth paragraph, gives further details and describes the background information in more detail. These paragraphs answer the less critical Wh-questions. It is advisable for longer texts that contain several aspects to divide the entire text into well-arranged paragraphs. Quotes from your company’s top people or your product management team can also be included in the body of the press release. Keep them short and concise and in no case should there ever be hollow clichés.


Boilerplate and press contacts

Boilerplates are the short pre-written sections that contain basic information about the company or organisation. They can be the number of employees, the date the company was established or its product range. Boilerplates appear at the end of the press release. They save media professionals valuable time that would have otherwise been spent researching the story. Never skip putting the contacts under your press release. Providing a press contact makes it easier for journalists to get in touch quickly if they have any further enquiries.


Multimedia material

Visual elements attract more attention to your press release, making the message more vivid and memorable. Including images, graphics or videos in your press release raises the probability that media representatives will notice your information. Therefore, your press release should always have visual material attached. Here it becomes crucial that the material meets journalistic standards. So, avoid logos on the photo of your CEO or overly exaggerated corporate identity features.

Pay attention to the resolution of the images you include (300 dpi for print, 72 dpi online). In addition, provide your motif in both portrait and landscape formats. This makes it easier for journalists to choose the right image for the medium.

Another important point is to clarify the rights of use to the images, videos or audios and your source information. These have to be legally impeccable.

Press release checklist

  • Does it meet at least one of the news values earlier mentioned and is it relevant to the target group?
  • Has the central topic and core message been clearly formulated?
  • Is the headline short, concise and to the point?
  • Does the headline also contain the central keywords for search engines to locate?
  • Does the first paragraph of the press release answer the Wh-questions?
  • Is the language in the press release factual, specific, lively and easy to understand?
  • If applicable: Do the quotations in the press release offer added value to the content?
  • Does the press release have a boilerplate and a press contact?
  • Is there supplementary material such as images, videos, audios or infographics? Are there files with metadata and have all rights been clarified?
  • Have all dates, facts, figures and names been fact-checked and found to be correct?
  • Has the press release’s text been checked for correct spelling and grammar?
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Press releases by news aktuell

In order for your press release to get the attention it deserves, a lot of time needs to be spent coming up with creative ideas for the content, doing extensive research and finally writing the press release itself - and the human resources are not always available in-house. news aktuell helps companies and organisations put press releases together.

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Content production

We transmit your contacts and work order to dpa Custom-Content, the editorial department for corporate content at Deutsche Presse-Agentur. They coordinate everything content-related with you and create a customised press release. Your press text is laid out over five days and includes a correction loop. You also get support in creating meaningful infographics and appealing photos, or assistance in producing a video.

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