Writing a press release
So you have something to promote; an exhibition to launch, a prize to announce, a new facility to open, or a new staff member to welcome. And you need some publicity.
This guide provides a step by step approach to preparing a press release. There are conventions to adhere to when writing press releases; it needs to be formatted very specifically to provide busy media outlets running to short timeframes, information in a form that is easy to read, use and publish.
The downloadable template includes the following:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
If the press release is ready for use, add this in CAPITALS at the top right of the release. This is used for news that can be published at the newspapers discretion.
‘EMBARGO. NOT FOR RELEASE BEFORE TIME, DATE’
If there is an embargo on the information, add the date and time you want it released. This is mostly used for news that is time dependent, such as openings, announcements of grants or prize winners etc. Some media organsations don’t like press releases which are embargoed as they work to very short time frames and scheduling news can be cumbersome for them, so be realistic about the time constraints of your news before using it.
‘News Release’ identifies the document. Use CAPITALS.
THE SUBJECT LINE
The first paragraph of 2 or 3 sentences should summarise the story. Use short sentences with less than 25 words. Talk about facts and use the formula: WHAT happened/will happen; WHERE it happened/will happen; WHEN it happened/will happen; WHY it happened; HOW, and to WHO was involved.
The later paragraphs are used to extract information from in order to write an article about your news. So be aware of providing enough information so a story can be rewritten by the journalist. Each paragraph must be self-contained.
Always add a quote from a key stakeholder. Make sure you get approval from them before sending the press release to the media.
The paragraph should summarise the background of the organisation or individual.
Finish off the copy with ‘ENDS’. This signals to the journalist that all information after that is not part of the formal release.
Download the ‘how to’ guide above and get writing!