31. Writing a Press Release
Description and Purpose:
Advice about writing successful press releases.
Read the following advice, and apply it whenever preparing press releases (in so far as it is applicable to your national situation).
Issuing a press release is a way to notify the media of a story or development. The release should be no longer than one page, and provide details on the development as well as background information on the larger issues. The release is then sent directly to media outlets. Media outlets that want to cover the story will use the release, either verbatim or as background information.
Effective press releases should have most important information in first paragraph and the rest in descending order of importance
Heading: short, eye catching, includes main points
First paragraph should answer 5W's:
This information should be start with the most important information first followed by less important information.
Body: Give essentials, then ‘background notes’. Include:
- One issue only
- Background on organization
- One page only – short and to the point
- Quotes – from credible figure (affected community, advocacy leaders, influential figure or celebrity spokesperson), include ‘sound bites’ that are readily quoted and remembered
- Photo opportunities
- Facts only – don’t exaggerate
The quote should be contained within the first two paragraphs.
Background notes: include contact details and any explanations for clarity but not necessarily for publication. Include an ‘all hours’ contact and phone number and spokesperson details (if you are doing a national release, try to find local people to be available to speak to local media).
Include a release date, which is the date the release can be published. It should be clearly stated on the top of the release. If it can be published immediately, the release should state ‘FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE’.
Send press releases to named journalists, where possible. Follow up with a call afterwards, ostensibly to offer them something further.