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Guide to Writing a Press Release

Guide to Writing a Press Release

The standard structure and items that should be included in a Press Release are as follows:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE or EMBARGOED UNTIL [date]. Indicate at the top whether the release is for immediate release or under embargo. If under embargo then you should indicate the relevant date/timings for the embargo. Embargo means that you are asking journalists not to publish/broadcast the information before a particular date/time, but they can still contact you to ask about it.

HEADING. The heading should be typed in bold and central. Keep it short, snappy and to the point.

SUB HEADING. This is optional and is used to elaborate on the information in the heading. Formatting is the same as heading, but smaller.

FIRST PARAGRAPH. The key facts - who, when, what, where, why, how. You need to get all of this information into the first paragraph and the test of it’s success is whether the story can be understood in its entirety if only the first paragraph was reproduced in print.

FOLLOWING PARAGRAPHS. Make your points in order of importance. Typically, the second paragraph should elaborate on the first, the third would contain a quote and the fourth a conclusion or summary. You are telling a story, so you must give the reader the full picture. Give:

  • Facts
  • Statistics
  • Names
  • Quotes. Include a direct quote from the most relevant person involved. Keep it brief, and provide an overview of the event. Remember to give the person’s full name and job title.

ENDS. The word ENDS marks the end of the main part of your Press Release.

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT. Give names and telephone numbers of people a journalist can contact for further information. Indicate any availability timings.

NOTES TO EDITOR. Notes to Editor is a numbered list which follows after the body of the press release i.e. the story. The list provides additional and background information to aid in understanding the story. The press release copy before the notes to editors must be stand alone and understandable but the copy in ‘notes to editors’ might provide broader information and context. Examples of information for notes to editors include a short description of the organisation (called the ‘boilerplate’) and its website link.

MORE FOLLOWS. If the press release spreads to a second page, type ‘more follows’ at the bottom right hand corner and ‘continued’ at the top of the second page. Never split paragraphs or sentences.

GENERAL. It is good practice to use double spacing and wide margins. This helps the journalist to make notes and presents your story clearly