Writing a press release
Writing a press release is not difficult as long as you keep to a few basic rules.
- Keep it short, ideally one side of A4.
- If the press release can be reported on the same day then put the date at the top of the paper alongside the instruction to journalists: ‘For immediate release’. This means that your press release can be printed as soon as it is released, but be aware of deadlines, especially for local weekly papers.
- If you want your press release reported on a certain day then put that date on the release and instruct journalists that it is: ‘Embargoed until…..’. This gives journalists extra time to find out about your story, get some facts and interview someone for their article. Try to send your release to journalists a few days before the embargo date then call them just before the embargo date and remind them of your release. Be prepared to take calls from journalists over the weekend.
- Use a headline that tells the story in a clear and newsworthy way. Simply stating the facts won’t work. Think about a headline you might see in your local paper.
- The first paragraph is vital to getting your story covered. You must grab the reporter’s attention in one or two sentences.
- Don’t use acronyms (like PCTs) without first spelling them out and never use jargon.
- Try to use a quotation, for example a comment that someone has made, that is relevant and important to the situation. It is the perfect area to add ‘flavour’ to the release. Use facts and figures in the main body of the release but include strongly worded personal views in the quotation.
- At the end of the text, write ‘Ends’.
- Make sure there is a contact name and telephone number, day and evening.
Finally, make sure you send the press release to the right people and well before their deadline. If you are unsure of who the right person is, or when their deadlines are, ask. Call your local paper and ask to whom within the paper your story would be most suited.