Anatomy of a Press Release

A press release is a written communication piece typically between 1-2 pages in length that consists of a straight-forward portrayal of information about a company, event, or person. It is a formulaic communication between an organization and the news media, as well as stake holders such as customers, shareholders, volunteers, etc. The ultimate goal of a press release is to influence the perception of the organization by the public.

What follows is a description of the parts that make up a press release. By understanding the “anatomy” of a press release, you will be better able to write them and persuade interested parties to take action.

press release parts

As you can see from the graphic, an inverted pyramid best describes how much time you should spend on each part of your press release! In other words, spend more time on the headline as it is what sets the “hook” in your reader; the PR contact info and Boilerplate should take the least amount of time.

  • Headline: This is where you will really capture the reader’s attention. Use action verbs, relate it to a trending news story, and use keywords to make sure your release is helping your SEO strategy.
  • Sub-Headline: The headline and sub-headline should tell 80% of the story. Use the sub-headline to provide a supporting fact that grabs attention, but make sure to save the most important fact for the actual headline.
  • Intro Paragraph: This is where you continue to hook the reader and add some quick info – it’s a summary of your whole press release. Mention the company name immediately. Be specific and keep the intro to two sentences over no more than 3-4 lines. Be sure to either embed (anchor text) or use a direct URL that links back to your website’s home page or to an appropriate landing page.
  • Main Body: The part where you really flesh out your intro paragraph and add on key facts. Keep the each paragraph short, no more than 4-5 lines if possible, for readability. For best results, include a quote from a company or nonprofit representative, as well as one from 3rd party if applicable. Also, include a call-to-action at the end of the body to prompt readers to act. Include a URL for about every 100 words so your releases are not seen by the search engines (and readers) as thinly veiled SEO vehicles.
  • About Us (“Boilerplate”): A quick about us section that just gives the reader a short summary of what your company is about. Be short and brief, no more than 5-6 lines. This part should focus on an overall description of your business from a strategic perspective. Don’t overdo it on the fact, though. Keep it high-level. Another URL for your company is appropriate here.
  • PR Contact Info: This is where you provide all of the contact information and links for journalists or readers to use to contact you. Without this, you will make it a lot harder for a journalist to write about your latest news.

That’s it! A press release stripped down to the bare basics.

With all of that – plus a few hours of blood, sweat, and tears – you will have your very own press release to share with customers, prospects and media outlets. They will be putty in your hands!

Have any other tips you’d like to share about press releases? Post them on our Facebook page or in the comment section below.

About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded his own PR firm in Austin in 2009 as one of the only PR firms in the country to provide performance-based PR pricing. Dave Manzer PR and Marketing helps startups and emerging growth companies become recognizable brands through innovative, value-driven PR campaigns, PR stunts, blogging and ghost writing. He also launched PR over Coffee to provide small business PR advice so that entrepreneurs and startups could practice “DIY” PR and promote themselves to a much wider audience. For more information about Dave or PR over Coffee, email info(@)PRoverCoffee.com.

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