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  • Writer's pictureSarah Turnbull

How do you Write a Press Release?

Birdseye view of a newspaper on a desk with Press Release in bold writing across the top of the broadsheet

Press releases are an essential tool for businesses, organisations and individuals to share news and information with the media and the public. A well-crafted press release can help you reach a wider audience and get the attention you need to promote your product, service or cause.

Crafting a press release can be a bit of a daunting task if you’ve never done it before. It’s important to get the right format, the right tone and make sure that your release contains the relevant information for the media.

A press release, done well, is often reproduced in full – without changes - across media outlets. By writing a good quality press release that’s interesting, informative and grammatically correct, you’re doing a journalist or editor’s job for them – saving them time, money and effort. So, how do you write a press release and what's the format?

Let's run through the most widely used format, which is the traditional release. It follows a standard structure and includes specific elements. The key components of a traditional press release are:

Headline: Your headline should be concise, attention-grabbing and accurately convey the main message of your release. It should be written in bold and in a font size larger than the rest of the text. When I’m creating press releases, I centre the headline and write it in upper case.

Subheadline (or ‘subhead’): This line should complement the headline and provide more detail about the announcement.

Dateline: The dateline includes the date and the city or location where the release is being issued from.

Introduction: The introduction should provide a brief overview of the main message of the release. It should also answer the "who, what, when, where, why, and how" questions. Keep this short - the introduction should be contained in two to three sentences.

Body: The body of the release should provide more detail about the "who, what, when, where, why, and how" that was announced in the intro. You can include background, statistics, quotes and other relevant information in this section. It should be written in a clear, concise and engaging style. Use short paragraphs and bullet points to break up long blocks of text.

I always like to include a quote in a release – sometimes two if there are different parties involved in the announcement. Introduce your relevant information first, then close off this section with a quote.

A good writer can create the client quote – this happens a lot – but you must make sure that whoever you’re creating the quote for signs it off and is happy with what you’ve written!

My advice is to keep the body of the press release to a maximum of three paragraphs, including quotes.

Boilerplate: The boilerplate is a standard paragraph that provides background information about the company, organization or individual issuing the release. It should be included at the end of the release and be three to four sentences in length, maximum.

If you’ve got a boilerplate for blog posts, for example, you might cut this down to use in a press release so you’ve got consistency of tone and style.

Contact Information: Contact information is so important to include in a press release – and is often forgotten. Imagine an editor is intrigued by your release and wants to know more but can’t get in touch as you’ve not included contact info. Epic fail! So, make sure this is included…

The release should include the name, position, phone number, email address and website of the person that media and other stakeholders can contact for more information or to schedule an interview.

-ENDS-: You might add some information in at the bottom of your release - maybe some further info as background that's not for publishing. If this is the case, use -ENDS-

Journalists and editors know that information after -ENDS- is not for publishing - and it also makes the release look more professional.

Looking down to a typewriter with NEWS typed on paper

Okay, moving on to the format. It’s advised to send the press release in Word, PDF pr HTML format, but I ALWAYS send mine in Word. Make it as easy as possible for a media outlet or organisation to open, read and reproduce your release!

Now that we have covered the essential components of a press release let's talk about the best format to use.

Avoid sending press releases in non-standard formats or attaching them to emails as images as they might not be compatible with all devices and software and drop into junk folders.

When formatting your press release, use a standard font such as Arial, Times New Roman or Calibri. Easy to read, clear and 'dependable.' Avoid using bold, italic or underlining excessively. You can use bold for headlines, subheadings and key phrases, but avoid using it for entire sentences or paragraphs. Your facts should speak for themselves.

If your words don’t have enough impact without you feeling that you need to underline or add them in bold, rewrite them. If they don’t make enough of an impact on you, they’re not going to make an impact on your audience. You've got one chance to make a first impression, so make your words count.

Here's a biggie... Make sure to proofread and edit your press release before sending it. Check for grammar and spelling errors – and correct them. Make sure that all the necessary information is included and that the release reads well and flows smoothly. Then proofread again. And a third time just for luck!

In summary, a well-formatted press release is essential for getting your message out to the media and the public effectively.

You can use a traditional news press release format with clear headings, short paragraphs and bullet points to convey your message clearly. Make sure the content is interesting, informative and gets your message across.

Use a standard format like Word and make sure your release is easily readable and compatible with most devices and software. Finally, proofread and edit the release carefully to ensure that it’s error-free and engaging!

You might like to read about how much does a press release cost and the factors that influence pricing. If you'd like to know more about copywriting costs for other work, please visit our pricing page by clicking here

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