Press releases are similar, yet different. Getting the small nuances right may be crucial to writing a successful international press release. Enterie – a network of international PR agencies – has asked their partner agency representatives what a press release looks like in their country, and collected their answers in this blog post.
In this post we want to show you how to write a good, localized press release. It will help brand owners, marketing professionals and PR departments to reach international journalists and influencers.
This ‘ultimate global press release guide’was co-created by 10 PR specialists from different parts of the World to cover topic such us:
- What type of content works best for a press release? In what situations to send it?
- What is the structure of such a piece? Why and when is it beneficial to add infographics, pictures or even sound/video files?
- What are the differences in creating a press release in the USA and Europe, as well as particular European regions (Benelux, CEE, Germany, France, the UK, Scandinavia)?
- Why is it crucial to localize the press release and how to do that, bearing in mind different cultures and media landscapes?
What is a press release?
The press release is a common PR tool. Basics of creating a press release are similar everywhere.
A press release is an official news item, written to communicate something newsworthy. It can be a new product or release, cooperation with other companies, change of a CEO. Anything that will be interesting to the media and their public.
– “If you don’t have newsworthy information to bring forward, you need to do something else” – says Rafael Tirmarche, CEO of Factivity, Enterie’s Belgian partner agency.
Of course, there is always a question of “what is newsworthy”. Different media may have different ideas on the subject, so it is important to focus on what are the media you are aiming at are writing about, and if you have something that is within their scope of interest.
Press release about a mobile game may not be a great thing to send to Forbes (it might be if you made a lot of money on it, and it is known worldwide), although it may be very interesting for a gaming website – still, you need to see if it covers mobile games!
What should the press release contain?
If the press release is a news article, it should follow a similar structure.
It should be replying to “5 W’s”:
- → Who?
- → What?
- → When?
- → Where?
- → Why?
And adding → “How?” to the mix:
Press release structure
The structure is the same everywhere. It should start with an informative (yet catchy) title, followed by a lead paragraph – that should either summarize the article or state the most important points of it, and be followed by the concise article answering the questions given above.
The structure of the text itself depends on the medium you are writing for, but as more and more information is now available on the internet, basic rules of internet writing should apply – meaning:
- • short paragraphs (up to five-six lines of text),
- • separated by short, one-liner headers that introduce new topics and give the text more structure.
Even newspaper articles adapt to this style, so it is quite universal:
What is boilerplate?
Your release may (and in many times should) end with a boilerplate – which is a short description of a company.
You may write about one of the most well-known companies in the world, but it is still essential to be described in the way you would like it to be described, or at least suggest and give your story to the person who is writing about it. And in most cases, you will write press releases for smaller companies, that at least some of journalists will not be familiar with.
Examples of a boilerplate:
SPOKO is a British/Polish fintech offering affordable money transfers to 14 countries. It addresses the needs of 1,7 billion adults with no access to bank accounts, as well as those, for whom money transfers cost too much, mainly immigrants wanting to support their families. It aims to operate in 51 countries enabling money transfers to 86 countries.
SPOKO mixes online and offline money transfer methods (with its POS in India, Russia, Pakistan e.g.). It cooperates with renowned companies such as Orange Poland, Alfa Bank and PrivatBank (the largest banks in Ukraine). Learn more at www.spoko.app.
BanqUP is an API-driven platform for open banking solutions, allowing banks and fintech companies to easily access a number of European banking APIs and gain bank data. This allows banqUP and its Partners to create new services, like integrating accounts from different banks, calculating credit risk, confirming identity, or supporting financial liquidity.
Press release – how long?
The release should not be too long – 2000 to 3000 characters will suffice. Both from the reader and journalist perspective.
Readers want their news given quickly and concisely, and journalists also want to receive hard facts and short info. – “Because they receive so many releases and they don’t write long reads based on PRs anyhow, make your releases not too lengthy” – says Tiermarche from Belgium.
Examples of a press release
1. Beyond Meat expands to Europe:
2. SPOKO launching in the UK:
“Big picture” and language of your press release
Your press release should also have a specific language – it should be first of all informative, and the information should be presented objectively.
Something that many PR agencies working with marketing departments of their clients know might be a hard thing to understand – it is not a marketing pitch, but news.
As our partners from VisitPR have mentioned in their blog post – there is some additional information to add not to make your press release all about you. Journalists love writing about the bigger picture – and this is one of the reasons people read the media. So, as per their advice, it is great to:
- add information on the state of the market,
- product or the company being a part of a new trend,
- or if you want to go the other route, describe the problem your customers may have to face and your product solves.
What are the journalists interested in?
This is a million-dollar question, but there are a few things you should remember for the news to be published.
First of all, you should always think about the target group.
A business journalist will be interested in different things and elements of the same story than a person writing about lifestyle subjects.
Even if you have a story that may be interesting for both (e.g. a company started by a celebrity), they will be interested in different parts of your story – and should not be sent the same material.
If writing for a business crowd, remember about numbers – like income or data, names of well-known company partners, innovative functions of the product, while the lifestyle reader will want to know about the people known from the popular media, design, and will probably welcome a softer, more lively language, that would be out-of-place in the business magazine.
The press release is dead. Is it?
Some people say the press release is dead. They are wrong, but some journalists are tired of getting many pitches, and, like every other person, they like to have their work simplified by others. The more comprehensive your text is, the easier it will be for them to publish.
Tip: infographics, pictures, sound files, quotes
It is extra valuable to add infographics, pictures, sound files – for some markets. Some prefer simple .txt file that they can quickly put into their CMS and publish as soon as possible.
It is beneficial to include a quote in the text of the press release. A few words by someone from the company will not only make it more interesting (especially if you are using a lot of numbers) and add a human touch to the story, but also make the journalist work easier again – they will not have to call the company to add the company statement themselves.
Does being quirky and fun work? We would suggest leaving it for the pitch. The press release is the news, so focus on the story the readers will want to read.
Similar, yet different – how do press releases differ in Europe and the US?
The basics of creating a press release are similar everywhere, but there are subtle regional differences.
E.g. language and tonality of say, German or Polish press releases, are more matter-of-fact and objective than in American or British press releases where the tone can have a more of a marketing focus and the tone may be more “enthusiastic” about the product. What is newsworthy may also be different when looking at the international environment.
Even the little details, like whether you should include a photo may differ locally.
The global standard that is the easiest to find on the Internet is an American/British press release style, so let us investigate other regional options. We need to remember, that the differences work on both sides: – “European companies must take a targeted approach when working within the U.S. media landscape” – says Bob Spoerl, President of Bear Icebox Communications. Meanwhile, American companies cannot repeat everything they learned in the US.
Press release in Benelux
(PR in Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg)
The keywords for any press release in the Benelux region are ‘news’ and ‘relevance’. A new or improved product or service, or acquisitions or mergers can be good subjects for a press release.
Research and surveys are also good candidates, but a local component (respondents from the Benelux region) are key to succeeding in Belgium, the Netherlands, or Luxembourg. A global or EMEA scope is usually not enough. Also, the number of respondents in a survey should be statistically significant, otherwise, the outcomes don’t really mean anything.
– “Market analyst’s recognitions, media awards, ‘momentum’ releases (‘We’re doing really good, see?’) and ‘customer buys product/service’ is something we advise against putting out a press release for” – says Arnout Lansberg, a consultant at the Amsterdam-based MCS PR.
When it comes to formatting, in the Netherlands it is similar to the US press releases, with one or more quotes (preferable from Dutch spokespersons), boilerplate, and contact details.
Communication specialists’ job is to make journalists’ lives easier – this rule applies everywhere.
– “A good photo or illustration is very helpful, as it gives the journalist more than just text, making his job easier” – says our expert from the Netherlands. In Belgium, a photo may be even a must-have. – “A picture can do miracles and it is essential to generate coverage. No pic, no article” – says Factivity’s Rafael Tirmarche.
In Belgium and Luxembourg, the so-called mass distribution of your release (to the database of all relevant media, e.g. tech media) will not bring miraculous effects to your brand. – “These are used for only around 20% of all the pitches” – says Tirmarche.
Exclusive pitch (giving the story for one, specific medium) is used in 80% of the situations and works much better. – “We pitch a lot as we tailor our press relations as much as possible” – explains Tirmarche.
Press release in France
French press releases tend to be much shorter than American ones.
– “We usually try to go straight to the point, take out the overmarketing selling points and keep only one quotation. Journalists’ busy schedule will thank you if you keep your press releases short and sweet” – describes Paris-based Edouard Fleuriau-Chateau, Managing Director at the OneChocolate PR & digital marketing agency.
France is (stereotypically) very concerned about its language and culture. And it does influence you – as a foreign brand present there – and a way you should communicate. Take consideration into all the details and content you create. Poorly translated, it can bring more harm than good.
– “Journalists will always judge the form first before going into the content. So if there are any mistakes in the press releases or in the pitch, it will be immediately a dealbreaker for them” – informs our source in France.
Press release in Germany
Reliable studies and data are really demanded by German journalists. When it comes to the language and tonality, this is more matter-of-fact and objective than in American press releases.
The formatting is, however, very close to the American. Infographics or pictures should be either attached or sent as a link, as the main press release is sent via email (text).
While most of the markets will be interested in a new product or business collaboration, it is NOT true in this Central-European country. – “Product launches and collaboration news do not work in Germany. Media is also not too interested in information on new features of a product unless it is relevant to the entire industry” – says Tatjana Ramerth – Head of PR at ELEMENT C, a German partner agency of Enterie.
Press release in Great Britain
Releases should only be sent when a company has something new to announce that is interesting or different – such as a new product launch or service or partnership.
Only the current topics are good news. As Vitis PR writes on its blog post regarding sending press releases in the UK, businesses and consumers are used to receiving the latest updates. We – as the communicators – should meet their needs.
When ready with the text, targeting journalists is crucial:
– “For example, at the BBC, it would not be advisable to send your release about a new home security camera launch to every journalist there. Instead, check the BBC’s website or your media databases to see if any of the journalists have written about other home security technologies or similar products, and then send the news to those journalists initially for consideration” – says Ranbir Sahota, Director of Vitis PR.
The UK is one of the best places to send a press release
Generally speaking, compared to other European countries, British media are really open to news releases. Even though not each of them is published by the journalists, they appreciate this form of communication to know news about your brand.
Companies (or its PR agencies) are keeping them updated by press releases. Thanks to that, journalists might remember about you when preparing range-perspective analysis, etc.
It is best to send a press release as a plain text file via email:
– “Press releases should always be copied into the body of an email in a plain text format – not added as an attachment. Including links in an email/press release directing interested readers to an external website for further information or images is a good idea, rather than adding those as attachments” – explains Ranbir Sahota from Vitis PR.
Press release in Italy
– “The press release represents a fundamental communication tool to share information – about a company, a project, an event, a manager – to a specific target of journalists” – says Alessandra Colao, Managing Partner at Milanese Doppia Elica company, adding poetically, that it might be regarded as a bridge between the brand and the media.
While Public Relations (media relations in particular) are usually the first step to engaging a journalist, the press release text should combine the needs of the media and the company. Having said that, a perfect Italian press release must have the following characteristics:
- • the content and the story angle must be informative and never simply promotional,
- • the topic must be clear, it is therefore essential to have a single topic to develop,
- • it is important to use the correct journalistic language based on the media target to which the communication is referred to,
- • infographics, company data, and numbers about the scenario are elements that should always be included to catch the attention of the press.
Like all journalists we are talking about, also the Italian reporters are always in a hurry. It is important to build an effective press release able to capture their attention: therefore it is essential to carefully take care of the title, subtitle, and first paragraph.
- • The title shall contain the message to send to the press: whether it is our news, an appointment, or a product launch, it is useful to include keywords that contextualize our communication.
- • The subtitle cannot be a repetition of the title but a deepening of information In fact, it is a space to insert data and numbers to support communication or to provide more information about the company and the chosen focus.
- • The first paragraph should develop the topic of our message addressed to the press. Just as it happens in any article, in the first paragraph of a press release it is essential to insert the news and provide an overview of the information developed within the text.
Common mistakes not to make in Italy
In order not to irritate Italian journalists, it is better to avoid the use of adjectives such as “leader”, “best”, “unique” attributed to the brand you are communicating.
Another important advice is to – like in France – avoid the excessive use of anglicisms, as Italian journalists love to protect the Italian language. Properly used lingua italiana is really important for them.
– “The press release is not a sales pitch but an informative piece of content. For this reason, it is advisable to “Show” the value of a company on the market or the innovative aspect of a product through data, but never “tell” without having proven it with real evidence” – says Colao from the Italian tech PR agency.
Press release in Russia
While the formatting is pretty much the same, Russian press releases are very matter-of-fact and short. The news should be put both as the attachment and into an email body, and the maximum size is 1,5 page – preferably even one page.
New products, partnerships, appointments, financial results, news on entering the market, research results (involving Russia in it) usually work well for the press release – if they are delivered well.
– “For example, if you have nice quarterly financial results to announce, it is always good to offer the information to one of the top tier business media or information agencies beforehand, with an embargo and let them publish it first. Right after that, you can send the news out to the other media (but not the direct competitors of the media you’ve chosen to be the first ones)” – says Victoria Poyda, Head of PR at the PR Partner.
Case studies and success stories work well only as an exclusive article for one particular medium, not a press-release.
When it comes to pitching a journalist via email (which is a common practice) pictures are not inserted in the file or in the attachment, to keep it as light as possible. Interestingly, when sending a release you should make sure that the format is .doc (not .docx or others), so that any journalist can easily open it.
Finally, what Victoria Poyda of PR Partner says about how all public relations professionals and marketing departments should treat journalists needs to apply everywhere, not only in this biggest country in the world:
– “Think of helping journalists. Some of them work 24/7 and are expected to give their best performance. If you give them a text that is 100% a “meat piece” and not a single word is “water” there – you’ll save this person a lot of time and effort. Russian journalists do not like “lyrical” content or any sign of emotional enthusiasm that the American ones might prefer. So if there is no real necessity in using particular words in a sentence, cut them away” – Poyda says.
Press release in Scandinavia
This is nothing new regarding a press release: in Scandinavia, they need to be Scandinavian-centric. Or, to be more precise, Swedish-, Danish- or Norwegian-centered.
Neither of those countries is huge, with too fragmented media industries, so it is very good practice to target one tier 1 medium at the time. For Scandinavian journalists, it is really crucial to get the story “of their own”. Later on, after it’s published, you can go on with further pitches and follow-ups.
By the way, very often we are approached with the questions regarding “PR in Scandinavia” and “Scandinavia” is regarded as one country, in which one PR agency, or even one PR specialist, should be efficient in communicating a brand (in all of these three countries, and sometimes including Finland, too).
This is not the case. While there are many cultural similarities between Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, their language, communicational habits, and especially the media landscape differ a lot.
This is why Enterie cooperates with PR agencies that are specialising in each of the Scandinavian markets separately. – “We can become a one-point contact and the general leader of the PR project, but it is crucial to have one regional specialist on each of these markets” – says Górak from Enterie.
Press release in CEE
Comparing to Scandinavia, there are even more nuances and disparities in Central and Eastern Europe. Countries such as Poland, Hungary, Romania or Estonia have literally nothing in common when it comes to language or media outlets.
Press releases there have to be translated to the local language and somehow connected with the local markets – unless we are talking about the biggest global brands, that are always of interest.
When approaching journalists with the press release, we also cannot count on any similarities. In Hungary a catchy title/headline is important, in Poland presenting as many numbers and reliable data is the key, and as there is a very small media landscape in the Baltics, you will usually approach one or two journalists instead of preparing a huge news release dispatch.
– “We send customized versions from the same topic to different media, with different tones of voice, depending on their topics (e.g. lifestyle, business, economics, news portals, tourism, etc.)” – explains Enterie’s Hungarian partner Rita Hajagos. –“Press release is only one of dozens of PR tools we use nowadays. It used to be the main one for several years, but it is not anymore” – says Zuzanna Szybisty from Profeina – Enterie’s partner in Poland.
Press release in bilingual countries
So, as you can already see, preparing a press release – especially an international one – might become tricky.
There are European countries where things get even more complicated – mostly due to language.
In Switzerland communication is held in four languages and four styles that come with them. Some press releases might require being prepared in all of them, and sent to different media outlets.
In Belgium, the press release always needs to be sent both in Dutch and French.
In Ukraine – where there used to be a huge Russian-speaking community – it is rather appropriate to address press releases or statements just in Ukrainian, as it is only one official language. However, some of the PR agencies send two language versions (Ukrainian and Russian ones) to the journalists.
How personal should a press release be?
Creating a press release is the beginning. Once you have created it, you have to send it to the journalists. This is also different locally, including such details as how to address a journalist or an influencer (find the list of the top European ones) in an email. While a press release needs to be as objective as possible, the way it is delivered might differ.
Usually, it is best to personalize the pitch – both when it comes to the message, references to previous publications of an editor/medium, and even a way we start an email.
Let us know (via email@example.com or any of our Social Media platforms: LinkedIn or Twitter) whether you find it interesting, how to pitch a journalist. Probably it deserves a different blog post. Just to give you some introduction on this topic:
→ In France and Poland it seems beneficial to start an email with the editor’s name, of course depending on your personal connection with the journalist.
If you know them well you would say “Hi Paul”, less so “Dear Paul”, and if you hardly know them it would be “Hi Mr Martin” in French or “Mr Martin” in the Polish context. You would never call them by their official function in an email introduction.
→ In Scandinavia, Belgium, or the Netherlands there is no personal greeting. – “A press release is not a personal letter” – warns Rafael Tirmarche from Belgium.
→ In the United Kingdom, we would advise using formal introductions for media, as it is more respectful. – “We only ever use personal greetings with journalists that we know very well or have worked with for a long time” – says Ranbir Sahota, Birmingham-based PR expert. She also recommends some different mail send out services that can be used to make mass release issuing easier, without compromising on tailoring elements such as a journalist’s name.
You can depict more of those regional nuances in our infographic below:
So, you have your press release. How to send it globally?
As you see, it is not easy to write a press release that will be meeting the standards globally, or even across Europe. It is even more challenging to collect a relevant mailing list – not to mention having real relationships with the journalists.
This is why we can do that for you!
We offer EnterieGO – a global news distribution service for Europe and the USA.
As our client, you will just:
- Send a press release to us (or just information you want to spread the news about – we can create a press release for you),
- Select the countries you wish to send your news in, and
- Get an offer in an instant.
Our partner agencies – leading specialists in those countries – will work on translating and localizing the news to meet the local market needs.
We work in 20 European markets and the US:
– “EnterieGO fosters an inter-Atlantic collaboration that ensures the heart of the message remains across markets, but the PR strategy is tailored to the local markets. In my experience engaging with dozens of companies across Europe, I’ve found the ones with the most success appreciate the nuances of media relations in different regions and invest in localizing their message. I’m really impressed with how our network has banded together in this unprecedented time to offer creative solutions for businesses looking to share their story” – says Bob Spoerl, President of Bear Icebox Communications from the US.
– “Doing everything in the same manner in every country does not work. We believe in our local experts, who know their markets best, as local customs really differ from each other” – adds Górak.
The advantage of such a “localized” approach is the distribution of the press release. It is based on person-to-person relationships with journalists, influencers, and media. Local consultants know their specializations and – while pitching the media – news they distribute is targeted outreach, not a mass mailing to a large list hoping something will stick.
If you choose to work with us – rather then sending a press release on your own – this is how we will collaborate:
How expensive is it to send a press release by local PR professionals?
The price depends on the country – obviously Switzerland and Scandinavia are much more expensive than Central Europe or Italy. In one of our articles, disscussing PR pricing in different regions, we used Big Mac Index. Worth checking! Anyway, for the price you can easily find here you are getting:
- Localization of your Press Release to best align with the targeted market.
- Professional Consultancy — you will be in touch with local PR Agencies in the countries you choose — they know their markets best.
- Local know-how — Agencies responsible for the dispatch know well the local market, preferences and methods of the editors.
- Translating to local languages. Remember, that e.g. in Belgium the Press Release needs to be sent both in Dutch and French. Our prices contain everything.
- Distribution to journalists we know personally (EnterieGO is not a newsletter — it is relationship management).
- Transparency and no hidden costs.
- Convenience — you provide us with the information (e.g. in the bullet points) you want to share with the public, we do the rest — in up to 20 countries!
- Edouard Fleuriau-Chateau – Director at OneChocolate (France)
- Ranbir Sahota – Director at Vitis PR (the United Kingdom)
- Rafael Tirmarche – CEO at Factivity (Belgium and Luxembourg)
- Magdalena Górak – CEO at Profeina (Poland) and founder of Enterie
- Hajagos Rita – Co-owner at Red Lemon (Hungary)
- Zuzanna Szybisty – Managing Partner at Profeina (Poland)
- Tatjana Ramerth – Head of PR at ELEMENT C (Germany)
- Arnout Lansberg – Consultant at MCS PR (the Netherlands)
- Victoria Poyda – Head of PR at PR Partner (Russia)
- Alessandra Colao – Managing Partner at Doppia Elica (Italy)