Anatomy of an Online Press Release

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

By Mark Willaman, Co-Founder

“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 character that represents and communicates attributes of a distinct set of people within a target market. It’s 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:

OK, let’s get started with the anatomy of a press release. I’m going to use as our sample newswire.

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. Your headline should be written according to the AP Styleguide. When in doubt, 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 (for 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: Online press releases should rarely be scheduled last minute. Allow yourself time to make any edits and optimize your release prior to distribution. At, we recommend that you submit your release the day prior to its release. Ideally, schedule your press release to go live between 7 am and 9 am 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.

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:

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.

OG Social banner displaying on Twitter

Other image tips:

Video: Embedded videos from a hosting service such as YouTube add tremendous value to your news release. At there are no additional fees for including an embedded video URL. To locate the correct embed video URL, click Share, select the ‘Embed’ option and then grab the embed link only (see image below).

How to locate the embed URL for a video

Target Topics or Categories: Select up to five relevant categories. Cross-posting to irrelevant topics is discouraged.

Public Online Drive URL: This is a feature unique to The use of a public “drive” URL is the perfect way to share files that are relevant to your news. Think about media swipe files, hi-res headshots, PowerPoint files, etc. By including a drive URL you have more control of 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 a great way to direct readers to additional information pertaining to your news.

Landing Page URL: The landing page URL should not be your company’s top-level domain ( Instead, insert a link that directs readers to more information regarding the main topic of the release. Think of the Landing Page URL as the ‘tip of your funnel’. Examples: 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 a new company hire, direct users to a bio of the new hire. UTM tracking links are recommended.

Release Contact: The name, email, 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 an online press release.

Anatomy of a Newsworthy press release

Final Thoughts



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