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Components of a Press Release Cheat Sheet by

Components of a Press Release
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Introd­uction

A press release is an announ­cement or summary of news to the press. A press release is similar to a news article, but it is not written by journa­lists. Instead, organi­zations or agencies repres­enting organi­zations write and send press releases to news outlets. Journa­lists or editors may publish the press release as is, or they may use parts of it within a larger news story.

Press releases should be straig­htf­orward, written in the active voice, and follow any guidelines recomm­ended by your target media outlet. Most public­ations use AP Style, and if you are new to journa­listic writing, it might be helpful to peruse the fundam­ental concepts. Press releases should also include the following key compon­ents:

1. Letter­hea­d/Logo

It’s a good idea to place your organi­zat­ion’s logo or letterhead at the top of your press release. This makes it easy for press staff to identify where the press release is coming from and it lends credib­ility to your news. Press release format is something you should consider when developing your brand standards. You will need to decide where and how big your logo should be placed, what size and type of font to use, margin widths, and line spacing to avoid variation in the way your press releases look.

2. Contact Inform­ation

Once the press staff read your release, they may want to reach out to you or your organi­zation for further inform­ation. Include contact inform­ation of the person on your team who can most effect­ively field media calls and emails.

3. “For Immediate Release”

Most of the time, you’ll want your news to go public as soon as possible. In this case, you should include “For immediate release” toward the top of your document. This indicates to the press that there is no holding period for public­ation. If you decide to embargo, or request a stay of public­ation until a specific date, you must also indicate that as well.

4. Headline and Sub-he­adline

A headline is the opport­unity to grab the reader’s attention. It should summarize what your news is about and encourage the reader keep reading. The sub-he­adline should describe the headline in more detail. Both are typically written in the subjec­t-v­erb­-object format and should be around 70 characters at most. For example:
Head­line: County Health Department Launches Childhood Obesity Program
Subh­ead: Community grant keeps kids on playgr­ounds, off couches
 

5. Dateline

The dateline includes the date as well as the city and state (see AP Style guide) where the press release is being issued, and it precedes the first paragraph of the release.

6. Body

The body is where the news story is written. The first paragraph should succinctly summarize the entire story, clearly articu­lating who, what, when, where, why, and how the story happened (or will happen). Subsequent paragraphs describe those same elements in further detail. Though there are ways to frame these details to provide a certain angle to the story, it is important to write facts only. The body is not a place for inserting opinions on an issue—this portion should be easy for media to publish directly.

7. Quote

Press releases should be fact-d­riven, but you will often want to include some formal opinion about the issues from your organi­zation. A quote from an organi­zat­ional repres­ent­ative (usually a director or lead on a project) is a good way to achieve this editorial edge. You may also consider including a quote from a third party who can add credib­ility to your story. This may be a content expert, a community leader, or a consti­tuent affected by your story. Make sure your titles are formatted properly, and don’t let quotes overshadow the facts—­instead use them to highlight and support the narrative you’ve written.

8. Boiler­plate

The boiler­plate is a few sentences at the end of your press release that describes your organi­zation. This should be used consis­tently on press materials and written strate­gic­ally, to properly reflect your organi­zation.

9. ###

This indicates the end of the press release so that the journalist or editor doesn’t miss any inform­ation. If your release is longer than one page, insert “--more--” at the bottom of each page preceding the last.

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