Anatomy of an Online Press Release

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Mark Willaman

Cofounder of

Anatomy of a press release

“PR is no longer just about media outreach. You now have the opportunity to drive a message directly to your customer. Everything you write should be focused on meeting the needs of your customer. Don’t worry so much about writing for the media. A good journalist will be able to pick up and follow these threads.” —David McInnis, founder of (and PRWeb) in his article, Write the Perfect Press Release.

This article will help you write a better press release. We’re going to dissect each section of a typical online press release and provide tips and examples so that you’ll inch closer to writing the perfect press release!

But first, let’s discuss marketing personas — fictional characters that represent and communicate attributes of a distinct set of people within a target market, based on both qualitative and quantitative information.

For press release writing, the sixteen personas (based on MBTI) can be grouped together into four macro personas; Competitive, Methodica, Humanistic, and Spontaneous — you can reach each persona by answering one question, specific to the target persona.

Before writing a single word to your press release, we recommend answering the following questions for each macro persona:

  • What is the big idea? The Competitive Persona is interested in the best. They want to know why an idea, service, or product is superior to everything else that is available. Provide a clear explanation about why your offering is superior. Systems, results, case studies, backgrounds, and assessments all resonate with the Competitive Persona. Get this out in your opening paragraph.
  • How does it work? The Methodical Persona is more interested in the “nuts and bolts”. This persona is interested in steps, instructions, and checklists. How does your product or service work? How does it make my job easier? Why should I care? This should persona will dig deep. Give it a couple of paragraphs.
  • How does this thing make the world a better place? The Humanistic Persona wants to improve things for others. They are your connectors. You must provide hope. How does this service, product, or event make tomorrow better than today? Can you show some vulnerability? Provide examples, successes, and triumphs of ordinary people. Did you solve someone’s problem? Put the spotlight on the customer, not on yourself.
  • What can you share that is surprising? The Spontaneous Persona seeks thrills, entertainment, and surprises. Think about how simple word choice can spark the creative mind. Is there something mysterious about your offering? Is there something counterintuitive about your news? Think in terms of oddities and interesting stories. Avoid puns and cheap shots. This is something that you can accomplish through your choice of images.

OK, let’s get started with the anatomy of a press release, using as our newswire distribution platform.

Headline: Your headline is the most read part of your press release. Be creative but not deceptive. Use “Title Case” in your headlines. Never write a headline that is in ALL CAPS. Use the conversion utility here.

Your headline should be no more than 70 Alphanumeric Characters. Why? Most search engines truncate titles containing more than 70 characters. Incomplete and shortened titles look unappealing to users and won’t entice them to click on your page.

Sample Headlines: Selects One Donation to Power New Charitable Giving Program

Headache Hat™ Expanding Distribution After 8 Years of Glowing Reviews

MyOutDesk Earns Best Virtual Assistant Services Company in 2022

Abstract / Summary: This is the second most read portion of your press release. Your abstract gets syndicated and appears alongside your headline in news readers and news apps. Summarize the key message of your release in 2–3 sentences.

Sample Abstracts (from the three headlines listed above):

Complementary benefit is designed to deliver access and funds to more than 1.6 million charities, exclusively for subscribers.

The Headache Hat™ wearable ice pack for migraines and headaches expands again this month by moving into retail stores, high profile flash sales, and distribution in Canada.

MyOutDesk has been recognized as the “Best” in their Industry by TechRadar for the third consecutive year. The acknowledgment by TechRadar is highly valued as it comes from one of the largest technology news and reviews sites in the world.

Notable Quote: Also known as a pull quote was introduced to the press release by McInnis’ PRWeb team in 2005. A pull quote is a key phrase, quotation, or excerpt that draws readers into your news release — and makes your news release more visually appealing. A pull quote is typically pulled from your news release copy and highlights the key message from your news. One sentence is sufficient.

Sample Pull Quotes (for the three headlines listed above):

We’re proud to team up with One Donation, create giving programs at scale, and lead this charge within the HR community.

The patented design provides long-lasting cold and targeted pressure on the pain points, unlike gel pack options that tend to warm quickly and don’t offer the pressure from the ice cubes.

My team and I are honored that MyOutDesk has received Best Virtual Assistant Services for 2022.

Release Date & Time: Allow yourself time to edit and optimize your release before distribution. Submit your release the day before it goes live. Ideally, schedule your press release to go live between 7am and 9am EST.

Location: The city and state/province where the news is being reported (Example: Vancouver, BC, Canada). This is typically the city and state of your primary corporate offices.

Content (News Release Body): Remember the persona section above? Answer those four questions. Keep it simple and avoid the overuse of industry jargon. When including jargon, your first instance should spell things out for your reader.

Tip: Let AI write your press release. User's "NewswriterAI" tool to write a draft press release with three suggested SEO-optimized headlines.

The minimum length for your press release should be 200 Words. While no upper limit exists, the recommended length is about 500 words.

Hyperlinks should be embedded hyperlinks and fully functional at the time of submission. Limit the number of hyperlinks to 1% of your release copy, or one link per 100 words. Add UTM tracking to your URLs, and use keywords in your link anchor text. Do not try and stuff too many keywords in your anchor text.

Some other tips:

  • Non-advertorial
  • Written in the third person and free of direct address (i.e. “you,” “I,” “we,” etc.) unless used within a quotation or pull quote.
  • Free of ‘hype flags’ (exclamation points; hyperbolic claims; descriptions of a product or service as ‘amazing’, or the use of upper case characters to create emphasis).
  • Avoid language like “best in class” or language that implies superiority. Your product or service features should speak to those claims.
  • When creating a list, limit your number of list items to 3 or 4 items.
  • Free of HTML tags and non-standard characters, tables, or forced line breaks. Most HTML tags will be removed automatically resulting in a press release that is hard to read.
  • Use of ### at the end of your press release is no longer required.

Key Takeaways (TLDR): Once you enter the body of your press release into, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will automatically summarize your release into three bullet points (that you can edit). These "key takeaways", sometimes referred to as TLDR (Too Long To Read) display at the top of your news release, below the headline and abstract, and give readers a quick overview of your news.

Sample Key Takeaways from a Press Release:

  • The highly anticipated "Ignite the Culture" charity event in Pompano, Florida aims to raise awareness and funds for mental health issues, featuring celebrity panels and performances.
  • The event has partnered with the Empower Kits App to provide enhanced access to mental health support and entrepreneurship opportunities for students.
  • "Ignite the Culture" also contributes to fundraising for record expungement services and aims to empower children with mental health support and resources.

Images: An important, but often overlooked, component to press release success is image selection. Even when images are included, little thought is given to choosing the right image. There are three types of images found on press releases: the company logo, the news image, and the social banner.

  • News Image: News images display within the body of your release and should be landscape oriented with a minimum width of 500 pixels. Use .jpg format and avoid .png because transparency layers may not transfer correctly when images are resized or cropped. Do not use a company logo for your news image, as it looks bad and is not related directly to your news. Most newswires already display the company logo on the news release page. If you must use your company logo, consider incorporating it into your news image.
  • Social Image: A social banner is an important part of your press release optimization and success. This is the default image that displays when your release is shared on social media. It should be landscape oriented, 1200x628 pixels, and 72-96 dpi. Avoid text, but if necessary, center text and subject matter. The social banner will not display on the visual news release, but it will be treated as an Open Graph image that will automatically display on social media posts when the news release URL is shared.

Other image tips:

  • Landscape mode is always best for images.
  • No copy. Try to avoid text in your news image or social banner. You run the risk of having your message cropped as your release gets pushed around the internet.
  • Photos of people. Look for images of people who are not looking at the camera. People that are doing something and making the activity seamless or effortless are best.
  • When choosing images, consider the following. Shadows speak to present consequences. Silhouettes speak to future possibilities. Choose Silhouettes when possible.

Video: Embedded videos from a hosting service such as YouTube add tremendous value to your news release. There are no additional fees for including an embedded video UR on

Target Topics or Categories: Select up to five relevant categories.

Public Online Drive URL: allows you to include a public “drive” URL in your press release. This is a great way to share files that are relevant to your news, such as media swipe files, high-resolution headshots, and supporting images. By including a drive URL, you have more control over what exists in the shared drive space than by attaching those assets directly to your press release. Public Dropbox, Google Drive,, and other such services are great ways to direct readers to additional information pertaining to your news.

Landing Page URL: The landing page URL should be specific to the news you are announcing. Instead of linking to your company's homepage, direct readers to a page that provides more information about the news. For example, if you are launching a book, direct readers to a page where they can learn more about the book and purchase it. If the release is about a new company hire, direct users to a bio of the new hire. UTM tracking links are recommended.

Release Contact: The name, email, and phone of the individual that readers should contact if they have an interest in your news.

Piecing it All Together — The Anatomy

This image of a press release from shows you how your various sections come together to form a search-optimized online press release.

Final Thoughts

  • Distribute your press release to a 'Newswire', a website platform that publishes and sends press releases out to hundreds of different news websites. Of course, we recommend In addition to having all the checkboxes for what you want in a press release newswire platform, has other tools to help you surface your news online, including fully integrated AI tools, and news marketing tools like an influencer marketplace.
  • Frequency. Push out one press release every 28 days minimum. If you are not putting out at least one press release a month, your business is stagnant at best and irrelevant at worst.

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