Press Release Format
for Online Press Releases

After you complete keyword research for an online press release, press release format is the next consideration. Formatting style varies, depending on the distribution service (newswire) service you use. The contents will be familiar to any PR professional, but how they are arranged runs from the familiar to radically different.

PRWeb Press Release Format

PRWeb, if not the gold standard for online press releases is at least the 800-pound gorilla, so let’s consider this one first. PRWeb does not make suggestions regarding formatting; they make rules. The whole system is set up to lead you through the process step by step so you end up with the right information in the right place.

With PRWeb, and all other online press release services, you must write with regard for keyword placement and density. If that sounds formulaic, it is, but not uncomfortably so. After all, writing a traditional press release is formulaic, as well. This annotated screen capture shows key features of the PRWeb format.

PRWeb online press release format


The release in this example was distributed at the $200 level, which allows for most search engine optimization benefits, except inclusion of video.

Main Column

  • Headline, summary paragraph, body of release
  • Body contains anchor text links to direct traffic to specific Website pages
  • Rotating quote block – if your release has two or more quotes, they will appear in rotation; available at $120 level and up
Right Column
  • Top box – options to print, download or add to a blog
  • Middle box – contact information
  • Lower box – file attachments – photos, graphics, logo
The photo in the body of the news release also will show up as a thumbnail image in Google search results – a great eye-catcher that helps set your release apart from the rest.

The summary paragraph beneath the headline is the only major exception to the traditional release format, but an important one. It allows Webmasters looking for fresh content to see what the release is about in less time.

Not shown –inclusion of one or two keywords in the press release URL, another good SEO tool. This feature is available at $200 and $360 distribution levels.

These all are important elements of search engine optimization that make online press releases so effective at building links and generating traffic to Websites.

Shift Communications Social Media Press Release Format

SHIFT social media release format

PR firm Shift Communications made a radical departure from the status quo with its social media press release template. In some ways, it’s more an electronic press kit than a release, because it provides access to supporting video, graphics, photos and background files.

The Shift social media press release format was developed because journalists and bloggers use the Internet to research stories. Its design makes it easier for them to find source materials using social media tools such as bookmarking and RSS.

Key Formatting Differences

  • Supporting files clearly shown at top of release
  • Shorter, bulleted text instead of paragraphs
  • Separate block for quotes
  • Specific accommodations for tagging and RSS feeds

PitchEngine Online Press Release Format

PitchEngine social media release format

PitchEngine is a distribution service for online press releases, but worth considering for its social media release format, as well. It exhibits traits of both PRWeb and Shift templates.

Top Block – the release shown here displays contact and news summary in the gray shaded block at the top, including links to social media sites.

Left Column – displays multimedia files. The top one is a Flash slide show containing several images. The bottom one is a video window.

Center Column – contains the headline, subhead and body of the content. Notice the bottom of this column has a place to post comments – which not only provides feedback, but allows the release to keep generating new content for the Website owner, which boosts search engine ranking.

Right Column – provides a ready-to-go Twitter tweet with shortened URL, news facts in bulleted format and links to related sites.

Online Press Release Format Summary

This is but a sampling of current practices for online press release formatting and content. Many more variations are in use now, and more will come – and that’s just the point. To stay at the top of your game in online public relations requires constant study, practice and flexibility. Click here to return from the Press Release Format page to the Online Press Release page.