The Press Release Process, Explained

“What is the process for developing and distributing a press release?”

I field this question often, so I’ve put together a step-by-step outline of the process I use to develop and distribute a press release in a way that optimizes potential earned media coverage as well as organic search engine results. Of course, every press release is different and so the procedure may vary, but the following provides a comprehensive overview of the steps involved, along with notations indicating those responsible for each step.

Development

  • Research subject matter/background information as related to the announcement at hand [writer]
  • Strategize a tentative angle and approach [writer/client]
  • Craft a rough outline [writer]
  • Compile content:
  1. Gather information pertaining to the announcement [writer]
  2. Choose images to be offered with release, if desired [writer/client]
  3. If necessary, interview 1-2 experts/authorities/key decision makers involved for additional information and direct quotes to be used in the release [writer]
  • Refine angle [writer/client]
  • Adjust outline [writer]
  • Compose release [writer]
  • Obtain/edit or compose and then incorporate a boilerplate [writer/client]
  • Optimize for search engines [writer]
  • Circulate for first round of revisions [client and other involved parties]
  • Incorporate recommended edits [writer]
  • Review for approval or second round of revisions [client and other involved parties]
  • Incorporate remaining edits, if necessary [writer]
  • Make any necessary adjustments for search engine optimization (SEO) [writer]
  • Final approval [client and other involved parties]

Distribution

  • Strategize a cost-effective distribution plan [PR professional/client]
  • Craft an introductory pitch [PR professional]
  • Compile a customized distribution list (including media, influencers, partner organizations, and other relevant contacts) [PR professional]
  • Arrange newswire distribution, if desired (for additional cost, price determined by chosen/customized distribution parameters) [PR professional]
  • Distribute via email to list (some professionals send to the entire list at once; I prefer to send separate, personalized emails that address the individual by name along and include any personalized notes) [PR professional]
  • Authorize newswire distribution [PR professional]
  • Handle all follow-up questions and arrange any requested interviews, as appropriate [PR professional and for any requested interviews: client and/or other involved parties]
  • Pitch to and/or follow-up with individual media members and other recipients (via phone and/or email) [PR professional, though the client and other involved parties may choose to reach out to those with whom they have pre-existing relationships]
  • Track results [PR professional]
  • Report results [PR professional]

Note: The above steps are not necessarily sequential. Distribution preparation can begin at any point during or after the development process, depending on the given timeline.