Reporter taking notes

The five basic questions a press release must cover

A press release answers five basic questions to be effective. It is a fantastic way to boost publicity for a business or client. Ensuring that the story you’re selling in is to the right publication, with the right readership, can be a game-changer. It rewards you with the many benefits of earned media, with third-party credibility and backlinks being big ones to mention.

It is important to think of a press release as a story pitch to content-hungry journalists. You need to have something to write about; a reason why you deserve publicity in the first place. In considering what information journalists need to make your story a good one, a great place to start is to have solid answers to the 5W’s. The who? The what? The where? The why? And, the when?

Get your press release basic answers to cover with the help of this article. Once you do, you should be well on the way to compiling a press release that would be rude not to publish.

A press release must answer these questions


There are two ways in which our “who” needs to be considered. Who is the target audience that this press release is aimed at? And, who do they read or engage with?

An integral part of any press release, planning your audience will inform what the rest of your pitch will look like. It will narrow down your options in terms of target media, and the people who know how to talk about the subject matter.

In what section would the press release work best? Is there a specific journalist, editor, or influencer to aim for? How can we build a relationship with these people that would increase the chances of the product getting featured?


Another key consideration for an effective press release is the story and what you want the world to know. More specifically, how can the company’s story, update, product launch etc, be shaped to fit your target media’s news and features. When presenting journalists with a product or service or update, consider what will help sell its story.

Just as important as the copy is the supporting assets. These are other kinds of media that create a more complete picture. Sending images along with your pitch is a good example as images, infographics, sound bites and videos also go a long way. These assets can be shared by your publication across its own channels, and help generate audience engagement.


The where question tells your audience where the story is happening and puts it in context for the readers. Location or platform is important as this will influence the audiences who engage with the final content. Where is also considered when deciding where to place the story.

A business with services or artisan products aimed at the local community requires a different touch to a B2B company. The emotive flavour to your pitch would be a real drive for the story to get featured. Don’t forget: publications aimed at a local community have often set out to entertain these people using emotive copy and supporting images. Bring it close to home.

Your product may need exposure on a wider scale. In this case, think about the places where they can be placed that don’t necessarily rely on geographical location. Would it be best to address them on social media? Is it a national demographic with values to be leveraged? An age group? Your “where” answer should fit well with the target publication.


This should provide you with an irrefutable reason to be published. Your “why” answer needs to examine the greater context of the product: what is its purpose? What will it change? And, most importantly, does this mean something to the readership of your target publication?

An important part of any news story or feature that journalists look out for is this “hook”. A reason for their readers to keep reading. If you get this spot-on, your publication will be begging for your story.


The “when” answer should compliment the “why”. When the product or service or news is available or has happened to audiences is important, again for context. Google’s updates are always news because they have a big impact on websites and searches as an example.

Timing is a crucial part of an effective press release and working with a journalist or editor can help maximise the impact of your story. A great time to swoop in on your target media is just before their planning meeting. This can be daily, weekly or monthly depending on the outlet. If you pitch to the right person, with the right idea, at the right time, the chances of your press release being delivered to your audience are wildly increased.

Bonus question: how?

The “how” should consider how your product can help with a problem or situation. How will this product improve your work or life? This is also a good question to ask yourself as it can help summarise the idea.

“How” is this all going to work?

Make your next press release answers all the right questions, book your enquiry call with us today [email protected].