What is a Press Release – Press Release Defined [+ Tips and Examples]

Intelligent Relations
By Intelligent Relations Team

By definition, a press release informs the media and the public about something newsworthy. 

But what is a press release really? And what can a press release do for you? 

Yes, press releases often comes from private businesses or PR agencies, and are distributed to various outlets to advertise something. But press releases can be so much more.

A press release can promote anything you might want a public audience or the media to know.

That could include your new product launch, the launch of your book, or even an awards ceremony you plan to host. Maybe you’ve hired a new CEO? Or perhaps you redesigned your website?

These are all great reasons to write a press release. Now, it’s just a matter of knowing what a press release is and how to make one that gets results.

So, if you want to learn more about press releases and what they can do, this guide will cover: 

At the end of the guide, we also include examples of press releases to give you a clearer idea.

Are you struggling to write your first press release?

We can help! Book a free consultation with one of our PR experts. They can help you plan, write, and submit your press release for optimal results.

What is a press release? What does a press release do?

What is a press release?

A press release is a brief document that’s circulated to the media to relay information, and typically to generate interest for potential news coverage. It therefore must be engaging and relevant enough to coax the media into sharing it with their audience. 

Once a press release is circulated to news outlets, the hope is that journalists will find the press release interesting enough to either write about or mention in a live broadcast.

What are the main characteristics of a great press release? A press release should be:

  • Newsworthy
  • Relevant
  • Interesting
  • Timely
  • Concise
  • Detailed
  • Unique
  • Informative 

What can a press release do for you?

The underlying goal of any press release is to increase traction and improve reach, whether the idea is simply to gain good publicity for your business or a client or to boost sales for a new product. 

What are the main types of press releases?

There are many types of press releases, and while they all appear very similar, each has its own distinctive purpose. Here are some common examples of press releases: 

  • The Book Launch Press Release – This advertises the publication or planned release of a new book. It aims to generate buzz about the book before it hits shelves. 
  • The Event Press Release – In an event press release, organizations advertise a special event with details about what kind of event it is and who can attend it.
  • The New Hire Press Release – New hire press releases announce a noteworthy hire for a company—usually only if the hire is relevant or impactful in some way.
  • The New Product Press Release – This announces a new product or a revamped version of an existing one. It explains how it’s significant and why it matters. 
  • The Music Press Release – A music press release may announce an artist’s new single, world tour, award, or accolade.

What does a press release include?

Since a press release’s primary goal is to inform, press release formatting follows a standard news article layout: the most important information comes first, followed by all other information in order of importance. The least important information always comes at the end. 

When writing a press release there are some key features that any quality press release should include. To ensure the most important information is relayed at the top, the first one or two paragraphs have to answer what’s known as the “5 W’s”—the basis for all good press releases. 

The answers to the 5 W’s provide all the critical information one might need for a press release: 

  • Who: Who is this press release about? 
  • What: What is this press release advertising? 
  • When: When will it take place? 
  • Where: Where is it happening? (Is it worldwide? In a city? At a single location?)
  • Why: Why is it relevant? (Connected to a broader news cycle.) 

What’s important to remember is, answering the 5 Ws is only part of a press release’s goal. The information has to be presented in a way to pique a reader’s interest and keep them invested.

Another key element to press releases is the boilerplate.

The boilerplate is a concise paragraph that provides background on the company or organization that’s issuing the press release. It’s an expected industry-standard part of all press releases.

Boilerplates appear at the end of a press release and are akin to the “About Us” page of a website. They include fundamental information about a company’s products and services, as well as big-picture details, like overall goals and market presence.

How do you keep a reader’s interest?

The “hook” is the element of a press release that’s intended to catch a reader’s attention. In a press release, the hook is the part that builds interest. It serves to establish the particular piece of news as relevant or significant to a wider audience.

If a press release can connect what it’s promoting to a wider circle of influence, like a trending issue or a social problem that can be solved, then it’s created a successful hook.

Take a look at this press release from H&M as an example.

“New brand H&M Move, launching worldwide August 4th, is embarking on a bold mission to democratise sportswear and get the whole world and everybody moving, however they move. H&M Move aims to equip the world with stylish and functionable ‘movewear’ that will support Movers of all abilities and skills to move comfortably and confidently.” 

The company seeks to capture the energy of the body positivity movement in the launch of its new brand. In the press release, they showcase a more accessible vision of “sport” by reframing it as “movement,” celebrating something that everyone on the planet already does.

4 Press Release Examples to Help You Get Started

To give a clearer picture of press releases in action, we’ve compiled a couple for your review.

This press release issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announces the recipient of the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators. 

Alternatively, this joint press release issued by Amazon and Whole Foods announces the acquisition of the latter by the former. 

It’s worth noting in the example above, that while a merger involving one of the world’s largest companies hardly needs context to build a hook, the press release creates an angle: Amazon reaffirms a commitment to making organic food accessible by offering temporary discounts. 

We have a wide-ranging selection of industry-specific press release example guides including:

Fashion Press Release Example

Political Press Release Example

Wrapping Up Press Releases

Press releases may seem confusing or intimidating at first, but, as you can see, they don’t have to be. If you ever want to or find yourself in a position where you need to write a press release, just ask yourself: “Why am I writing this and what do I want to promote?” 

As long as your press release answers those two questions clearly, you’re off to a great start.

Still not sure

Still not sure what a press release is or how to use one to your benefit? Let us help! Simply book a free consultation with us to get expert insight into how to start or improve your press release.