Formerly the tool of corporate PR officials, the press release is now something that anyone can come out with to announce something new and exciting that has to do with his or her company or other enterprise. Authors, musicians, and, yes, podcasters have sent out press releases.
So the first question is, how do you write it?
The good thing about press releases is that they are incredibly formulaic. Look at any press release and you'll see the same things:
Don't be coy with the text: This is a one-page "Just the facts ma'am" info-dump. Remember everything you learned from essay and newspaper writing in school and tell who, what, when, where, and why. It's there for people to put out information if they feel like it, but it's also designed to entice people to contact you for an interview, and that's when you get clever. Tell what you want to say in the first sentence. Did you win an award? Did you get an interview with someone who's been in hiding for 4 years? Did you land a million-dollar advertising deal for your podcast? Say it up front. Include quotes from yourself. It's here where you can get witty and clever and sell yourself and your podcast.
And now we're to the second question: To whom do you send it?
They're not called "press releases" for nothing. Send them to the press. Local, statewide, maybe even national if you think the news is big enough (hint: it has to be really big). But also send it to websites that might be more likely to pick up web-related news, as well as other podcasts that might enjoy hearing about podcasting news.
Another option is to use a service that sends out press releases to a preset group of media agents. Most of these services will also write the press release for you. These services aren't cheap, though. Many cost from $99 for the writing to $400 for the release. (But hey, if you've landed that million-dollar ad deal, you can afford a $400 media blitz, right? The rest of us, however, have to do the grunt work and gather email addresses of media outlets.)
Some press release service sites you may want to check out are listed here:
PRNewswire is the one that seems to be used the most by podcasters and is one that Rob has used with a decent amount of success.