Writing Press Release

Writing Press Release

    1. Timing – Press releases are distributed shortly before an event, usually the day before. Brief press advisories can be distributed a few daysprior to give reporters a ‘heads up.’


    1. Formatting – A press release should always be double spaced andabout a page long and never more than two pages.


    1. Contact information – Contact information for your organization should be included on the press release so that if journalists have anyquestions regarding the press release, they can easily find someone toanswer them. Include the contact’s name and direct phone number.


    1. Organization information – A brief (one or two line) summary of yourorganization’s mission can be added to your press release to introduce your group to reporters. Also, include your organization’s logo on all releases to help build recognition of your group.


    1. Writing style – Press releases are written in short, concise paragraphs. The first paragraph begins with an interesting lead sentence and a general description of the event, message, or idea. The second paragraph gives more detailed information, some background data, and perhaps a few quotes. The third and final paragraph includes a way for readers to get more information on the story. In effect, the release should be the story you would like to see printed. If you have a website, post information relating to the news story on the site and include its URL in the release.


    1. Know the audience and the publications/stations – Before submitting a release, decide what audiences you would like to reach and find out which news sources reach those audiences. Targeting your release to relevant publications/stations will help ensure that your press release will be selected and reach the audiences you want to influence. Learn the high circulation days for papers, and time your release accordingly.


    1. Know the journalists – If you are consistently submitting pressreleases to the same journalist (i.e. the environmental writer at a newspaper), find out how he or she prefers to receive the releases whether it be via fax, snail mail or email. Also, find out the journalist’s deadlines for article submission. Make sure that press releases are submitted in advance of these dates. Journalists get many press releases each day, so knowing their preferences and deadlines, as well as the correct spelling of their names, is to your advantage.


    1. Emailing press releases – If a release is to be sent via email, file attachments shouldn’t be sent. They can be cumbersome and time consuming to download, and they may not even work at all.


    1. Follow-up calls – Most writers don’t like receiving follow-up calls to find out if they have gotten a press release. If a follow-up call is made, especially in the case of corrections to the article, the author of the press release should be the one making the phone call so that almost any question can be answered quickly.


    1. Fact sheets and other information – In some instances, it may be helpful to send an additional fact sheet with background information on the topic of the release and/or your organization. You may even want to consider sending a press kit that includes the press release, fact sheets on both the topic and your organization, a background sheet on any opposition that might exist, contact names and numbers, press clippings, and a list of other individuals and groups that support your cause (including their contact information).


    1. More information – If a journalist calls you looking for more information and you aren’t able to answer a specific question, put them directly in touch with someone who does. This will help avoid miscommunications and giving out incorrect information.


  1. Quotes and sound bites – If you use quotes in your release, theyshould provide more information and not just someone’s opinion. Also,make sure that you identify the exact sources of any information in therelease.