May 7, 2014

How to write a press release

Getting press is one of a startup’s most “pressing” challenges. As part-time PR manager at Graphene Frontiers (one of my many hats), I publish press releases to announce company successes, win press, and document our team’s achievements.

A press release is a short, official statement that companies provide to media outlets to make announcements. Press releases are an effective way to win media coverage since you’re essentially doing work for the reporter.
Pro tip #1: All startups should publish more press releases! They’re a great way to announce a new hire or celebrate that big customer you finally acquired.
Once you’ve written the release, you can publish it via free and low-cost services, like PRWeb, or you can search for a publisher specific to your industry. Share the release with investors, clients, and accelerators—anyone who supports your company should receive the news. And don’t forget to send a copy to friendly reporters!
Pro tip #2: Make sure your copy is well-written. Reporters will often copy-and-paste directly from your press release.
Here's the standard press release format:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
This first line lets reporters know when they can publish your news. If you want to ask reporters to delay publication, write: EMBARGO UNTIL DATE
Media Contact: Name, Email, Phone
Reporters will contact this person with questions. 
Company X hires Y to lead Z
The headline should be active and direct. A good headline format is Subject, Event, Why It Matters. For example, one of my recent headlines was “Graphene Frontiers Awarded $745kNSF Grant for ‘Roll-to-Roll’ Graphene Production.” The Subject is Graphene Frontiers, the Event is Awarded $745k NSF Grant, and the Why It Matters is for ‘Roll-to-Roll’ Graphene Production. 
Date 
First paragraph
Cut to the chase. The first paragraph should be two sentences, at most. Say who the company is, what you do, what was the big event, and what will be the result of this event. 
Second paragraph
Details! In the second paragraph, tell a story (beginning, middle, end) to explain what your company does and why you’re the best. 
Third paragraph
Quote from someone outside the company, such as an advisor, investor, customer, or mentor. 
Fourth paragraph (optional)
State why the person quoted in Paragraph #3 is relevant. 

Fifth paragraph
Quote from CEO. It’s CRITICAL that this quote comes from the CEO, not another team member. 
Closing boilerplate
Include boilerplate text describing your company and any key stakeholders. For example, when I wrote my last press release, we published it with the University City Science Center, so I included a description of what the Science Center does. If you’re publishing a joint press release like this, leave time to request feedback from the contributing organizations.
And…that’s it! Press releases are an easy way to document your successes and win press for your company. Happy writing!

-Paige