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January 30, 2024

How to write an effective press release: 5 must-have elements to give this traditional PR tactic a modern makeover

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“Press releases are old-school and not as effective as they used to be.” 

We’ve heard these comments many times and perhaps you have heard them as well. However, although much has changed in the media world, press releases can still play a relevant and useful role in a successful PR campaign. The trick is knowing when to plan for a press release and how to craft one in a way that makes sense for today’s fast-paced, information-saturated world.

Do I Actually Need a Press Release?

When a client comes to us and says they want to send a press release, we see that as the opportunity to start a conversation. As public relations professionals, we ask the client to step back and determine which goals they’re seeking to achieve by sending a press release as part of their PR campaign and determine whether the message aligns with those efforts.  Some of the questions we ask include:

  • Is it really newsworthy?  
  • Is a press release an effective tactic to spread the word and generate media coverage in this specific instance?
  • What other communications tools (social media, influencers, video announcement, live streaming, etc.) might we use to generate visibility and effectively reach the client’s target audience?

If we decide together that a press release is the best option, we use this time-tested template to guide our efforts and ensure our releases include these 5 must-have elements.

For a FREE press release template and the ultimate guide to writing an all-star campaign launch press release, click here.

1. Quality Content

Search engines reward quality content and give it higher visibility. To ensure your press release is high-quality, it should be:  

  • Informative. Give your readers answers to their 5W&How questions.  
  • Concise. You don’t have to add in a ton of fluffy language. If you get to the point, people are more likely to find it useful.  
  • Easy to understand. Watch out for including industry jargon that might be unfamiliar to readers.  
  • Fact-driven. Your press release shouldn’t sound promotional or like a sales message. Instead, focus on sharing details that emphasize the importance of your news to the community and that make it easily digestible for reports who might want to cover your story.  

2. Relevant Keywords

Following up on the potential for search engine visibility, press releases can provide a great opportunity to associate your company to relevant keywords and subjects within your industry.  Pick one to three relevant keywords to include in the release. Use the most popular keyword in the headline and subhead and the rest in the body of the release. 

3. Distribution  

When you create a press release, you want to ensure you give it the most visibility possible.  Getting people talking about your news all at the same time can give you some great momentum, especially on social media where you can encourage ongoing conversation.  As you create your distribution strategy, think of the different communication avenues as tentacles. You want to spread them as far as possible in order to boost your discoverability.

  • You can distribute it through a newswire service for a fee (best for getting national coverage/visibility or for targeting specific industries).  
  • You can distribute it through your personal network of media contacts, including reporter contacts and your social media influencer network
  • You can distribute through your own organization’s channels as well as seek media coverage – your website, blog, social media accounts, etc.  

You can also get your team involved. Ask employees to share relevant news across their own social platforms. You can provide them with graphics and sample messaging to help ensure they stay on-brand while helping you spread the word.

4. Call to Action


Press releases look very different nowadays than they did 10, 20 and 30 years ago. They are no longer received via fax and filed away in newsrooms. In today’s world, they are visible online for a much longer period of time and can provide lasting digital traction for your organization.  In addition to serving as a media announcement, your press release should provide a clear next step for your readers. Do you want them to visit your site, download an infographic, or share your content?  You definitely want to leverage the opportunity to move your audience from the release on to your website where they can learn more about your organization and continue moving through your marketing funnel.  Your call to action will probably include a URL to your website or another one of your owned platforms (YouTube channel, etc.).

Use your links judiciously and strategically so you send readers to the right place at the right time and ensure they take the action you want.  Limit the number of links to 2-3 links per release and ensure they flow naturally within the context of your release. If they don’t, your content may be penalized in search for being overstuffed with keywords and spammy links.  

For example, Google includes the following text a violation of their Webmaster Guidelines because of its inclusion of ‘unnatural’ links: There are many wedding rings on the market. If you want to have a wedding, you will have to pick the best ring. You will also need to buy flowers and a wedding dress.

5. Visuals  

Multimedia has been shown to drive discovery in press releases. According to a study by PR Newswire, including one visual element in a press release increases its visibility by 92% and more than one visual element increases visibility by 552%. The power of visual content is rapidly growing and including high-quality photos and/or videos in your press releases is a must. Experts say visual content increases message association and brand awareness. Consider these statistics:

  • Video content has increased 17x since 2012 and over 100,000 videos are uploaded online daily. 70 percent of users use YouTube content to help them solve problems, which can position your product or offering as a differentiator.  
  • Twitter posts with embedded images drive 150% more engagement. Tweets with video get 10x more engagement than those without.  
  • People only remember about 20 percent of what they read and have a much higher percentage of information (80 percent) capture with visual content.


When creating visual or video content, make sure it’s strategically created in a way that’s clear and easy to understand, without a lot of clutter or extraneous information. To ensure you get the best ROI on your press release, work with an experienced public relations firm. Twin Minds Media can provide support to help you craft a meaningful press release, determine the best audience, support you as you pitch the media, and get meaningful visibility for your brand. Learn more about the public relations services we offer.  

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