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Writing a Personnel Press Release that Gets Noticed

The last Rhino PR blog discussed why the traditional press release is not dead and cited a recent survey finding that journalists ranked press releases and news announcements as the most valuable type of content they receive from their PR contacts. While the tried and true press release is a useful PR tool, the most effective press releases are well-constructed, high-quality pieces of writing that deliver valuable content. How do you write one that gets noticed? Let’s start with the commonly used “new hire” or employee promotion press release.

To recap: By definition, press releases are written and distributed by a company to disseminate news and information to media outlets. They follow a generally accepted format, with a headline stating the news; a sub-headline announcing “first-best-only” aspects or key messages; three or four paragraphs highlighting the who, what, when, where, and why of the story; a relevant quote; and a boilerplate of consistent company information. The press release closes with a link to the company’s website (a placement that helps with search engine optimization – SEO) and a media contact with email and phone number so editors can follow-up for additional information.

A “new hire” or employee promotion press release should be a straightforward announcement. The first paragraph should feature the company and employee name, with his/her new or promoted position and job title. It’s reasonable to add if an employee is supporting a particular region, division, or studio within the firm. The second paragraph should lead with the employee’s key responsibilities in the new role, and then a sentence or two about the talents and strengths he/she brings to the position and the company.

The third paragraph is commonly reserved for a company’s executive quote. Coming from the president, CEO or regional head, the quote should speak to why this new hire or promotion is notable and important to the company and its business goals. The employee’s caliber of talent, expertise in a given area, or extensive experience may be called out as reasons for the strategic new hire or promotion.

Paragraphs four and five should include a short bio of the employee, recapping previous and recent work history and highlighting accomplishments such as key projects/clients and measurable results. Data points like total square footage designed; cost, size or complexity of completed or award-winning projects; and contributions to a firm’s growth are all compelling points to include. List the employee’s memberships and leadership roles in relevant professional organizations, as well as published articles, general speaking experience, and personal awards. Education, with college, degree, and area of study, may be included too.

In some cases, the press release may include a quote from the new hire or promoted employee, especially if the person is taking over leadership of a department or helping the firm step up business development in a particular area.

A professional headshot should accompany every personnel press release. A good rule of thumb is to send a photo that is of a high enough resolution to be used by a print publication – usually 300 dpi. Be sure to provide credit to the photographer (if applicable), and label the file name with your company name and the employee’s full name. Editors receive numerous press releases and photos every day, and you want to make it easier for them to know which photo goes with which press release.

Like the structure and flow of an effective proposal, a well-written press release should include the standard notations and style elements that the press universally expect to read in a news announcement. By writing a press release with valuable content, in a format easily digestible by editors, your personnel news is better positioned to get noticed – and published.


Susan Shelby, FSMPS, CPSM, is the president and CEO of Rhino Public Relations, a full-service PR and marketing agency focused on meeting the unique needs of professional services firms. Rhino PR offers customized services based on each individual client’s goals and budget. Susan received the 2016 SMPS Boston Marketing Professional of the Year Award, which honors marketing excellence in the A/E/C industry. Follow her @RhinoPRBoston or visit for more information about how Rhino PR can help you take charge of your PR.

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