For more than 100 years, press releases have been a valuable communication tool that allow PR professionals to quickly and efficiently convey information to the media. In today’s ever-evolving world of communication, the state of the press release is constantly changing. But are press releases dead? Well, not exactly. The way they’re used in the unique and challenging environment we find ourselves in today, however, has evolved.
A recent study published by Cision analyzed the current state of the press release, compiling findings from more than 100,000 press releases distributed through PR Newswire’s global distribution network from June 2019 to May 2020, revealing new insights about the best press release practices.
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Press Release
COVID-19 changed the world as we know it, and it’s no question that the media landscape has been affected as well. According to the study, 48 percent of total press releases put out by Cision between March and May 2020 mentioned COVID-19. During the height of the pandemic, brands everywhere were quick to release information about their shifting plans to the media and the public. Messages included information about what steps were being taken for the health and safety of their employees, how they were dealing with the crisis, and news about public safety, corporate social responsibility and infectious disease control. Not surprisingly, this increase in COVID-19 related press releases coincided with a large drop in non-COVID-19 related press releases as well as travel, trade show and event news.
Throughout the next year, it is expected for copy to begin focusing less on the pandemic as the public begins taking steps to return to normalcy.
Press Release Timing for Maximum Visibility
Knowing when to send out a press release can determine whether your press release is opened and engaged with or left sitting in a reporter’s inbox. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer on best time to send a release, the study found that most press releases are sent out at 8 AM ET Mondays through Thursdays.
This doesn’t mean that this is the ideal time to send them, though. In fact, it may be beneficial to choose a time before or after this in order to stand out from the crowd and increase the visibility of your press release. To maximize visibility, the recommended time to send out press releases is in the middle of the day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays, avoiding the top of the hour.
Multimedia and Press Releases
Multimedia is important for increasing press release visibility, and should always be included when it makes sense. Press releases that include multimedia were reported to have higher views and engagement.
Another factor to consider is what device your audience might view your press release on. In today’s fast-paced society, many reporters may open your press release on a mobile device. Any multimedia that you include with your release should be easily visible on whatever device your audience prefers to use.
The Ideal Press Release Length
Press releases should be long enough to provide all the necessary information, but short enough to be concise and engaging. The ideal press release length according to the study is 686 words, while the average length of a release is around 400 words. Breaking up text with bullets, headers and lists can help engage your target audience and improve readability.
A catchy headline that is bold, yet short and sweet has been shown to work best. Avoid clickbait headlines and be sure that you are stating your purpose. Headlines that are around 88 characters were found to perform best. Including action words, especially in the beginning of a headline, can improve the visibility of your press release. Headlines containing the words “confirms” and “reveals” topped the list for garnering the most views.
These new insights into the best press release practices in today’s world will help you craft useful press releases for your brand going forward. The press release is here to stay, and these tips offer a modern approach that will help your brand increase performance and boost coverage.