In this article, we will cover an important type of media outreach call press releases, and we will show you when you should be using it, where to put a press release out, the typical costs involved per press release, some press release templates and lastly we will show you how to use a cool tool that lets you copy your existing PR/email pitch and will show you examples of similar press releases put out there in popular PR outlets.
1.0 What is a press release?
A press release (also known as a news release) is a targeted 1-pages, 350-1500 word document that is solely designed to share some breaking news to the public. The idea is that your press release will distributed to thousands of news outlets that will in turn write a story on your PR and helping you disseminating your breaking news widely.
This is one of the major types of traditional media outreach. The other major method is a targeted media outreach where you try to build a personalized database of journalists with a similar topic of interest and you reach out to them personally either through social media such as linkedin or Twitter or email them directly.
However, there are some situations when you need a wider dissemination platform and its actually better for you to go via the press release route.
A third option is combining the two approaches above by first putting out a press release and sending in a cover letter of sorts your media contact list to ensure that you get maximize your chances of getting news stories out of your press release, which is ultimately the end goal of all media outreach efforts, right?
2.0 Types of Press Releases
The basic rule of thumb is you should commission a press release whenever you have something newsworthy to share for wide dissemination. This includes:
Event Press releases: These press releases cover newsworthy events (trade shows, conferences, business summits etc.) your company is either hosting, sponsoring or attending in near future. Event marketing has been a mainstay of marketing for many B2B businesses, and the way they generate interest, footfalls and leads is by getting the word out to all the potential visitors and making it enticing for them to visit their event. Hence, this of this type of press release as an invitation to visit not just for the readers but also the journalists themselves. In the pandemic world that we are living in, you can use these type of press releases not much for increasing footfalls like it was traditionally done, but now you can just use it as a plug to your regular media pitches. Lets take a real example of such a press release; Thundercomm came out with a release in Oct 31 about attending an event called the 11th Japan IT Week Autumn. they masterfully emphasized what the company was all about (5G) in the title itself, and then they proceeded with a complete overview of their products and the implicit theme being that their products are bringing some unique thing to the existing vendors at the event.
Hiring new executives: Hiring new executives in upper management is definitely important news especially if you are a larger company with publicly traded stock or if your stakeholders include some of the major corporations. The overall goal of such a press release is simple, you are trying to highlight the credentials of your new hire by going through some of their resume strengths and past experiences. Ultimately, you want to convey that bringing in this hire is surely going to boost your companies bottom line by either attracting new customers, executing existing stretegy better, or pivoting into new market areas and so on. You can also discuss about connection of your recent hire with the major stakeholders in your industry and how that synergies can give your business a boost. Let’s take an example of a press release by vital farms that discusses the hiring of a chief sales officer. In the subtitle itself they highlight the number of years of experience of their hire, Peter Pappas, by working at major corporations such as MillerCoors, and PepsiCo.
Breaking news announcements: These are by far the most effective press releases out there. News outlets want to cover newsworthy events and especially so when it marks certain major milestones. One of the widely covered news item related to cannibis industry was when it was reported that total sales volume of a major point of sale software provider crossed $1 billion in total cannibis sales since 2017. This originated from a press release put out that company itself and this was mainly picked up not only due to implications for the company putting out the press release (Cultivera) but rather more on the state of this up and coming legal cannibis industry. So a good breaking news press release should strive to present the bigger picture and frame the argument in such a way that it can be picked up by lots of different outlets without much effort in editing before running the story.
Statutory disclosures, mergers and acquisitions etc: There are certain events in a companies lifecycle where they are statutorily required to publish a press release to meet the wide dissimination requirements. In these cases, the impetus for a press release comes solely from the lawyers and other compliance related departments and there are exact guidelines about disclosures required in such as press release. Typically, these can be used for corporate events such as mergers and acquisitions. Lets take the example of a recent press release by Zimmer Biomet that discusses spinoff of the company into separate independently traded companies. You’ll notice right off the top that this press release doesnt not follow your typical template, and is much longer with additional sections such as transaction details, tax implications, details about a conference call with a statutory disclaimer about forward looking statements.
Product launches: Product launches make a great topic for press releases. Typically these are lazer focused on the product description and attributes along with couple of images. Pet Kings put out a press release for their product launch of ecommerce store. Their subtitle “Consumers Can Shop with Peace of Mind Buying Authentic Product Direct from the Manufacturer” immediately tells you about the topic of the press release and they further solidify it with a featured poster.
Partnerships: If you team up with another company than you customers and stakeholder would probably want to know about it, and hence press releases are great way to get the word out. The overall aim of such a press release should be beriefly describing both companies, showing why such a partnership is beneficial not only to each companies but the community at large, and finally showing how this partnership will impact present customers. An Isreali company called Biogal did all of that in a recent press release where they talked about their partnership with a U.A.E (Arab) company, and right from the title they highlight how such a partnership brings peace to the difficult cross border relations in middle east.
Sharing research: Market research companies have long used press releases as an important part of their marketing efforts. they advertise about all kinds of niche sectoral or product research reports. Examples include a recent press release from Data bridge market research.
Awards: Awards are by design mediums of self promotion and press releases can help you amplify it’s impact by garnering press appropriate to the size of your award. For example if you get an award by the local chamber of commerce or a trade association than your press release helps you get a story in local press. However, if the award in international (think Oscars, Nobel prize etc.) than you not only get international press, but frequently the organization giving you the award will also help you deal with the media by having an appropriate media kit and credentialed journalists at the event itself removing the need for a press release after the event. Hence in our experience, press releases for awards work well for speciality awards. Examples include a recent press release from a doctor who won an award from Philadelphia Academy of Surgery and a real estate company winning a local award.
Book launches: Lots of major publishers as well as independent (self-publishing) authors put out a press release to announce their book launches. Example include book launch for a mystery series, a debut book launch by a indie publisher.
Crisis management: when something bad happens, it’s best to present your spin of the events by putting out your own press release. There is no one size fits all template for this type of press release since its so dependent on the type of crisis facing your business. Typically, drafting of these types of press releases are best left to seasoned PR professionals with years of experience in crisis and reputation management who can consult with your legal team to draft the text of the press release.
Legal: Lots of American law firms announce potential class action lawsuits and investigations via a press release and this is a great way for them not only to get press but also finding claimants to join their suits. Such press releases have become especially common in pharmaceutical and healthcare space such as this due to the potential for a large reward if the lawsuit is successful and a large penalty is awarded, a portion of which obviously goes to the law firm in such types of cases.
Nonprofits and charitable and advocacy groups: One of the most important ways a nonprofit and advocacy campaigns garner press is by the press releases route. There are many good examples of effectiveness of such a campaign, but none as effective as the prop 24 campaign where Californians successfully pushed new rules for online privacy. Advocacy groups such as Californians for consumer privacy pushed out atleast a dozen press releases on this topic in the run-up to the election that highlished every endorsement their movement got from a high profile union, politician, celebrity etc. At the same time they also effectively used it to frame a narrative and push stories to highlight perceived corruption and malpractices of their opponents .
3.0 Top press release distribution services
4.0 How much does press release distribution cost ?
The cost of a single press release can be as low as couple of hundred dollars to as high as few thousand. The main things affecting the pricing of a press release is how many do you purchase (singles cost the most), links you can put, how widely will your press release be distributed, the total wordcount of the text itself with charges in slabs of 100 beyond standard 400 word release, how many images you insert etc. We will walk though some press releases examples and show you how to estimate its pricing in another blogpost.
5.0 Free press releases?
There are numerous services out there that claim that you can distribute your press releases for free. In our experience, a vast majority of these overpromise and underdeliver (or deliver nothing in some cases). We have reviewed over 50 such services and we have wrote another blogpost especially on this subject.
6.0 Is press release really suitable for your use case?
Due to the high one time costs involved in a press release distribution, I think its fair to think carefully whether are they the best tool for your given media pitch. The best way you can do so is by looking at previously published press releases and by checking on what kind of press they are getting. We have created a tool where you can enter you media pitch and using AI matching, it will search our vast database of press releases to get you the closest published examples. By reading that you can solidify your research to determine whether the best path forward to bring your pitch in front of journalists is by a press release or is your pitch niche enough that it will get better traction with a targeted media contact list. Our tool is currently undergoing beta trial; just drop a line to get access to it for free.