16 minutesBy Canva Team

Creating a press release: How-tos, templates, and tips

Attract media attention and garner publicity with a well-developed press release. Browse examples, learn tips, and use free templates from Canva to write a press release that expands your reach.
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What is a press release?

A press release publicizes useful and important information about your business through different media channels.

Whether you’re launching a new product, announcing an upcoming event, or sharing an award your company recently received, you’ll want the story to reach a wide audience and promote brand awareness. A press release can help with that. Think of it as your ticket to get media coverage — for free.

The way a press release works might seem simple, but capturing the attention of media members can be tricky. With journalists receiving multiple press releases in a day, it’s crucial that yours make it to the top of the pile. To give your press release the best shot at getting published, it should be:

  • Newsworthy: Your story should always be interesting to read and something the media will want to promote to its audience.
  • Timely: The ideal time to get media attention for your story is when it’s still fresh and of interest to the public.
  • Impartial: Always include factual and impartial details to your content to allow for honest coverage.
  • Well-structured: Structure your press release in a way that’s easy to follow and digest.
  • Engaging: Including appealing graphics and photos can make a significant impact on whether or not your story gets noticed.

Done right, a press release becomes a vital component of both your public relations (PR) and marketing strategies. It can help in improving your brand’s image while creating a buzz around your products, services, and other noteworthy news.

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Canva Docs
When writing a press release, you can benefit from using a visual-first document creator like Canva Docs that lets you craft your narrative and supercharge it with engaging visuals.

Why is a press release important?

Between social media becoming one of the most popular tools for reaching wide audiences, and people’s attention spans wearing paper thin, it’d be easy to write off press releases as a thing of the past. But doing this would be a mistake.

The truth of the matter is, the press release remains a staple in any PR toolbox. And its value lies in providing the following benefits:

Publicity

With a well-crafted press release, you can attract the attention of journalists, editors, and other media members. This can result in instant exposure for your business through articles that pique the interest of current and potential customers. Distributed to the right media outlet, your press release can even expand your reach to an untapped audience you may have never considered before.

Affordability

The goal of writing a press release has always been to gain free publicity. When it’s picked up by journalists who share the story with their audiences, they’re essentially helping you get the word out about your company at no cost. This makes press releases an invaluable resource for businesses of all sizes, from well-established enterprises to startups in their earliest stages.

Media relations

A press release can help you create relationships with journalists, reporters, and media influencers. These are the people you rely on to publish content about your business to increase your customer base, improve your public reputation, and expand your professional network. Establishing media relationships gives your company various channels to distribute future press releases and communications.

Brand identity

Spreading the word about your company is important, but so does maintaining a positive brand image and public perception. Whether you’re announcing a company acquisition or handling a PR crisis, a press release helps you facilitate the information cycle in a way that’s favorable to your business. As long as you consistently circulate accurate press releases, you’re sure to establish credibility and brand trust.

SEO traffic

In today’s digital age, you’re not just writing press releases for the media; you’re also writing them for search algorithms. By utilizing SEO best practices in your document, search engines can find, index, and rank your press release. A higher rank in search results can ultimately lead to increased visibility and more traffic for your brand.


What to include in a press release?

No matter its purpose, a press release has a standard format to follow. This makes it easier for the media to sift through chunks of text and understand what the key message is. Structured well, your press release should feature the following key components:

Start your press release strong with your headline and lead to capture interest right away.

Start your press release strong with your headline and lead to capture interest right away.

If a press release serves as the media’s window to a company’s world, the headline is the deciding factor whether or not they should look further. This may be the only thing journalists read, so it should be compelling enough to hook them in.

Traditionally, a press release’s content starts off with a location and date. The location indicates the city and state where the press release originated from, written in all caps. The date, meanwhile, informs the media when the press release was issued.

The first paragraph, or the lead, encompasses the message of a press release. It should cover the who, what, where, when and why of the story. These pieces of information make up the heart of the content and get the important details across in a concise way.

Following the lead, the body adds more context to substantiate a press release’s message. Because there’s no guarantee journalists will read to the end, details in this section are written in a reverse pyramid format, meaning they’re organized from most to least important.

To humanize a press release, supporting quotes are included in the content. Ideally, these should be from someone important to the specific announcement. For instance, a stakeholder, a project manager, or the CEO. Quoting key figures not only emphasizes the core of the statement but also injects credibility into it.

Found at the end of the document, the boilerplate works as a short “About us” for the company issuing the press release. It often puts a spotlight on the company’s history, brand identity, mission statement, and contact details.

Not to be confused with the boilerplate, the contact details is a separate section that informs the media how to get in touch with the employee in charge of distributing the press release. This makes it easier for journalists to clarify any questions about the company or the release.

Every press release ends with an end notation to signify there’s no more copy to come. Although the three centered pound signs (###) is the most common, -30- or XXX are also used to conclude a press release.


What are the types of press releases?

Press releases are a versatile medium that businesses can use to communicate and connect with their target audiences. They come in various types, each serving its own unique purpose. But some are more favored than others. These are:

Product press release

Whether your company is releasing a new product or rolling out an update, you can announce this exciting development through a product press release. Included in this document are the key features and unique benefits that make the product a cut above the rest. Some visuals and the pricing are also critical intel added in this type of press release to effectively drive interest.

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Make your Docs on brand
Ensure your press release stays on brand, no matter the type. Use Canva for Teams to access brand management tools that let you apply your branding to your document.
Example of a product launch press release you can design on Canva Docs.

Example of a product launch press release you can design on Canva Docs.

Launch press release

The landscape of launch press releases is broad, covering business ventures, ideas, campaigns, and movements any company or organization plans to kick off. This type dives deeper into the reasoning behind it and how it can benefit the public to promote positive feelings about the launch and build anticipation among readers.

Event press release

If you have a pre-event that’s newsworthy for media outlets, an event press release can provide a spotlight for it to raise public interest and footfall. It features the time and location, admission fee, and any other interesting details that’s sure to encourage people to attend. This type can also be utilized for post-events, highlighting significant moments and quotes that deserve press coverage.

Merger and acquisition press release

With a merger and acquisition press release, companies have the space to inform stakeholders and customers about any organizational change. It covers the reason for the merger or acquisition, important information about the two businesses, specific quotes from leaders, as well as the changes that will happen and how these could affect customers.

Award press release

When it comes to brand excellence, there’s no need to be humble. An award press release can help you cement your position as an industry leader when you win awards and accolades. This type shows your company isn’t all bluster — highlighting relevant details such as information about the award, what it means for your business, and why you earned it to increase brand trust.


When to write a press release?

Press releases have always been an important puzzle piece in any PR or marketing strategy. But knowing when it’s appropriate to write one can make a big impact on whether or not your story gets picked up.

Keep in mind that writing and sending out a press release only makes sense when:

  • You have a newsworthy announcement to share with a large number of media members
  • You need to provide an official statement to clarify any misunderstandings in times of crisis
  • You aren’t able to contain your explanation under the standard 200 words for a media pitch
  • You want to elaborate on a story idea for a journalist
Economic news about a bank’s interest rates can be shared via a press release.

Economic news about a bank’s interest rates can be shared via a press release.

Press release vs. news release

Contrary to what people believe, these two can’t be used interchangeably. You write a press release for media members when you want to announce something that will happen in the future. Meanwhile, you write a news release for all audiences to provide them with factual information about something that’s currently happening or happened in the past.

Press release vs. media pitch

Press releases and media pitches work hand-in-hand to ensure your story gets picked up by the right media outlets. You write the former when you want to inform the media about what happened or will be happening soon to earn press coverage, while you write the latter to explain why the story is important and deserving of media attention.

Press release vs. advertisement

Many individuals often make the mistake of lumping these two together, but they, in fact, have very distinct purposes. You write a press release when you want to promote brand awareness and garner public interest. On the other hand, you create an advertisement when you want to sell a particular product or service directly to your audience.


How to write a press release

Writing a press release is a unique form of art. While there are certain style and formatting guidelines you need to adhere to, you have the creative freedom to shape the story how you want. Ensure the success of your press release by following these six important steps.

How to write a press release

When it comes to press releases, a dull and uninteresting story just won’t cut it. Think as a journalist does before sitting down to write your piece. Is it worth sharing? What is your story’s main takeaway? Knowing the answers can be the difference between getting your press release noticed and sent to the trash bin.

To help you out, here are some examples of newsworthy press releases you can share to the media:

  • Launch of a new product or product update
  • Announcement about an exciting event
  • New partnership with a well-known brand
  • Recognition in your particular industry
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No need to brainstorm
When writing a press release, avoid brainstorming for topics. Don’t ask “What can I write a press release about today?” Instead, answer the question “Is my story relevant to the audience?”

Your headline is probably the most important part of your press release. After all, it determines whether your story achieves its PR goals. But creating a punchy headline isn’t as easy as it seems.

You only have one line to work with, and it can’t be too short, or else it won’t be as accurate. But it also can’t be too long, or you’ll lose the recipient halfway through.

If you’re finding it hard to create a headline that grabs attention, keeping these strategies in mind might do the trick:

  • Aim for a short and straightforward headline. Stick to 70 characters or less to pack a bigger punch.
  • Incorporate a specific detail that can drive the interest of your recipient. This could be relevant numbers or data.
  • Always use present tense in your headline, regardless of when the story happened. This’ll keep it up to industry standards.
  • State the facts. You might be tempted to overhype your story, but it can be a turn-off to journalists.

With your headline out of the way, it’s time to focus on your lead that will hold your recipient’s attention and encourage them to continue reading your press release. Straight to the point is the goal here, providing immediate answers to the 5Ws of reporting:

  • Who: Highlights the subject of the press release.
  • What: Refers to the main topic of the story.
  • Where: Shares the physical or online location for an event.
  • When: Indicates the date or time of an event or launch.
  • Why: Details the significance and value of the message.

As much as possible, try to keep your lead in one paragraph, with no more than six sentences. This way, you can deliver your message clearly and focus on the crux of the matter that your readers should know about.

In the paragraphs following your lead, you’re free to expand the core of your message and make it more credible. The supporting details you add here often depend on the type of press release you’re writing. These may include:

  • Statistics
  • Sales numbers
  • Actual quotes
  • Graphs or tables
  • Relevant images

Make no mistake, though — a press release has no space for fluff or filler. The additional information in this section should all be facts. They should also be organized from most to least important, so in case a journalist uses editorial discretion, no crucial information will be cut from your story.

Before concluding your press release, you need a boilerplate that summarizes your company at the end of your document. When writing one, it’s essential to keep these tips in mind:

  • Determine the angle of your boilerplate
  • Keep your business description in one to two sentences
  • Include details that are factual while promoting positive feelings toward your company

Once you’re done writing, it’s critical to proofread your press release before sending it out to media professionals. Keep an eye out for any spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors that you might’ve missed. Read your document out loud and see if it makes sense. You can also share your work to a colleague and get constructive feedback from a fresh pair of eyes.


Get inspired with press release templates

Whether you’re still a beginner or already experienced at writing a press release, it’s always a good idea to use ready-made templates that let you start inspired and confident. Choose one from the press release examples below and customize according to your style and content.


All you need in a press release maker

Leverage your press release to share your story in your own words without the hassle of any complicated software. Canva’s press release maker provides everything you need to grab the media’s attention, from our drag-and-drop editor and data visualization tools, to Magic Write, our AI-powered writing assistant.

  • Great on any device

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  • Visual library for visual Docs

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Press release best practices

With practice, you can master the art of writing a press release and craft stories that members of the press will want to cover. Follow these tips to get started.

Make it visual

In the wrong hands, a press release can end up dull and boring, effectively putting journalists to sleep while reading. You can prevent this by including multimedia in your document.

The benefits that multimedia brings to your press release are twofold: it can enhance your story by providing additional information and visual references, and make it more interesting to read. Plus, press releases with visual elements are more likely to get views than those without.

On Canva Docs, you can supercharge your press release with impactful visuals to really capture the interest of journalists. Use our customizable press release templates for that added design flair and take advantage of our drag-and-drop editor to add graphics, images, and logos to your document. You can also supplement your content with tables and graphs with our data visualization tools. With these at your disposal, you’re on your way to creating a visual press release that makes it on top of a news desk.

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Canva Photo Editor
Use Canva’s free online photo editor to easily edit any photos you want to use for your press release. Add filters, adjust the brightness, or even enhance your image.
Find images, graphics, shapes, and more from Canva’s expansive media library in the Elements tab of your doc.

Find images, graphics, shapes, and more from Canva’s expansive media library in the Elements tab of your doc.

Know your media

When distributing your press release, avoid the pitfall of sending it to every media contact you can get your hands on. Doing this can earn you a one-way ticket to people’s spam lists. Instead, research which journalists are likely to cover your story. This means reading up on their past articles to understand their point of view and how they communicate with readers.

Once you know the right media outlets, it’s critical to personalize your pitch to each one. Templated pitches are a no-no, and often one of the reasons why stories — no matter how relevant — get rejected.

When writing your pitch, make sure to include an interesting subject line that leads to a summary of what your story is about in the first paragraph. Doing this can lighten the load for journalists, who usually get hundreds of emails per day. Plus, with a personalized pitch, they know you value their work and time, which encourages them to give your press release a chance.

Avoid sales-oriented language

It’s important to keep in mind that press releases don’t have the space to accommodate sales-oriented language. CTAs like “buy now,” “don’t miss out on,” and “take advantage of” can make your story look more like an advertisement, so will superlatives like “incredible” or “best.”

At the end of the day, journalists are looking for valuable, well-written content to publish, not advertisements to feature. So if you want a successful press release, it’s best to focus on the aspects of your story that will resonate with media members and compel them to share to their audience.

Consider your timing

Although the early bird catches the worm, this strategy is not always the best when it comes to press releases. Remember that your timing is a significant factor that affects whether your document gets opened.

Naturally, if you have urgent news, you can send your press release as soon as you’re done proofreading it. But the general consensus for the best days when distributing one are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Think about it: media professionals have already settled into their work by 10 a.m, giving them time to sift through their emails before lunch break. And 2 p.m. is just enough to catch them before their day ends. Don’t want your press release to get lost in the shuffle? Try sending out your document at a distinct time (e.g., 10:05 a.m, 11:02 a.m, or 1:15 p.m.), not on the dot.


Press release FAQs

The task of writing press releases is usually handled by a company’s PR or communications team, which then sends the document to journalists, reporters, and other members of the press. Businesses that lack either of these teams may turn to specialized press release writing services that will take care of the job for them.

Once you’ve written a press release, it’s time to distribute it to the media. There are two ways to do this:

  • Through a wire service
  • By sending it to your media list

With a wire service, you’re assured that your press release has the best possible chance of being published by major publications. That’s because wire services have databases of journalists and other media influencers. That said, wire services come with a price tag, which can either be affordable or expensive depending on the platform you choose.

You can also send your press release to journalists in your media list. This way is definitely cheaper, but it often requires more effort and time on your part.

In general, a press release is always succinct and direct to the point. It should only contain relevant information that a journalist needs to write their story. As such, keep it to one page — two max — with 400 to 500 words to convey your message.


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