The first step in writing a press release is the topic. It is key to be clear on the purpose of the press release and why you are writing it. Picking a topic may sound simple and straight forward but the step is often where writer's block starts and that prevents executing on writing a press release that hits the goal for your marketing campaign. If you are targeting the media beyond the web, your topic must be newsworthy. If you are targetting towards keywords and search engines, you must take search optimization into consideration and it must be newsworthy, as well.
Newsworthy topics can include announcements, events, product or service launches or something having specific influence or effect in your corresponding field of expertise. While it is a tendency for business owners, entrepreneurs and marketers to promote your product or service, it is important to keep in mind that the press releases aren't for you—it is for your target reader. The press release should keep the focus on what is important that you want to educate the reader on.
Press releases with an educational approach in mind always do better than those that seem strictly promotional and spammy. For example, a gym with the topic and headline of "85% of Los Angeles Fitness Members Reported Increased Cardiovascular Strength with Brand New Aerobics Class" that educates the readers on how the aerobics class has helped increase cardiovascular strength backed with scientific research and testimonials would be better than "Los Angeles Fitness Offers Aerobics Classes".
Another approach to selecting a topic for a press release is to do more of general news releases that announces company events. Examples of such events can include the hiring of a new COO, improvements in existing operational work flow, profound metrics in social engagement, annual earnings reportings, infrastructural changes or upgrades, etc. These press releases can be an excellent area to have search engine optimization in mind. For example, if a SaaS company that provides email delivery hires a new COI, the headline can be "Email Delivery Service SendGrid Announces New Chief Information Officer".
Topics should be defined by purpose and they can be dictated by time. Holidays, seasons, and current events in media within your industry can help drive ideas for press release topics. Before you start crafting your next press release, have in mind who, what, when, where, why, and how. Most importantly, keep in mind why your reader should care about what you have to say—in essence, make it newsworthy.