How to Write a Successful Press Release

Many thanks to Jamie Wilburn and Tracy Vreeland from LHWH for video conferencing us last month to talk about Press Releases. If you weren’t there, no problem. Here’s what they taught us:

News Release & Media Alerts

  • First, determine if the event or announcement is newsworthy and identify the new hook. Examples of press release could be new hire, public service or fundraising.
  • Then gather all pertinent information. Write in an inverted pyramid so the key points you want to convey are the last to be cut. Who, what, when, where and how should all be addressed if possible.
  • Develop a strong lead and draft the release.
  • Use a straight forward factual news writing style in a new release. Never write a release that sounds like an ad. Most of the release should be composed of verifiable facts. Draft and include quotes to convey points that are important, but may be more experiential and observational than factual. No flowery quote, just facts.
  • Always include your website and social media info in the press release.
  • It is always a good idea to have someone else proof read the press release before it goes out.
  • Media alerts are used to advise the press about news conferences and special events planned. They should both include the subject and brief background, event date, time, schedule and place and a contact person.

The Structure

  • Select and always use the same typeface for your release and alerts. Justify the type and set margins an inch from the side edges of the letterhead.
  • The heading “NEW RELEASE” at the top of the pae should be in caps and a larger type than the rest of the release.
  • Skip two lines and underneath the news release heading, type the contact person(s), phone number and email in smaller type.
  • Skip one to two lines, then add the headline in bold caps. Make it no longer than two lines.
  • Single-space between headline and body copy. Use 12 italic for datelines followed by a dash. The dateline should be in the format: “Month, Day, Year, City, State -,” The state should be abbreviated. Example: May 4, 2016, Aynor, S.C. –
  • Always include a boilerplate ( a summary that is “About the Business Name” ) at the end.
  • If the release is more than one page include the label “(more)” centered a the bottom of the first page and use the heading “Topic – Page 2” flush right on the second page. At the very end of the release, include the symbols “###” centered. If the release is one page and there is no room for “###” it may be omitted.

Download Samples of Press Releases

Headline Writing Tips

  • Answer the question: Why should the reader care or guess what happening today.
  • Use an “action verb” to make it more appealing
  • Convey what the rest of your press release is about.
  • Leave the reader wanting more – don’t put the kitchen sink in it.
  • Be crafted for your audience (technical, medical or general public). Your target audience.

A headline should not:

  • Use jargon or buzzword
  • Mislead the reader by referencing something that is not addressed in the release.

Where to find contacts?

  • The internet is the best place to find contacts for local publications, TV and radio stations.
  • Look for the authors in publication.
  • Online calendars

Send press releases to the executive producer or editor and special reporters.

How to send a press release

  • The preferred method of press release delivery is via email. Make sure you attached your press release and copy and paste the press release in the body of the email.
  • You should also include an image if you have one.
  • Never call and say “Did you get my press release”. Do call if you need to correct a mistake in the press release.