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Tips for Writing an Effective Press Release

A press release is an important and standard part of any advertising effort. However, in almost every way, it stands apart from other methods of promotion, such as print ads, direct mail campaigns, signs, and flyers.

A press release is a cost effective way to gain media attention, exposure, and credibility for your organization. Many of us have become immune to advertisements that make claims and promises to potential clients. In contrast, a press release is a news article that can be informative, interesting, and attention-grabbing without a heavy sales vibe that can turn off customers.
Follow these tips when writing your press release, and you’ll increase your chances that it will get picked up by the media.

  1. Don’t write an advertisement.
    Picture for a moment a standard advertisement for a company or organization. It is aimed at potential customers. It most often speaks in the first person. It makes promises and strong statements about the value of the service or product. An advertisement is all about promotion. When you create an ad, you are making a sales pitch. As you write a press release, you need to forget all of that. It is not intended to promote your organization… that is only an incidental benefit. A press release is written to report a newsworthy event.
  2. Tell a story.
    In the process of detailing the newsworthy event, the release must be useful, interesting, or compelling to the reader. It may be helpful to look at it this way – in writing a press release you are telling a story. Before you sit down to write a press release, think about your topic. Does it have enough substance to tell a good story? If you are writing about a fairly straightforward piece of news, can you find an “angle” or “hook” that will draw the reader in? As you write, you should constantly ask yourself the question: Why is this newsworthy? As long as you can write towards this goal, you can write about anything that is important to your organization.
  3. In the first paragraph, answer Who? What? When? Where? and How?
    Because you are reporting news in a press release, be sure to follow the basic rules of journalism. Journalists employ a writing style often referred to as the “inverted pyramid,” where they lead with the most important information and add the supporting details as the press release moves along.
  4. Follow standard formatting guidelines.
    A quick internet search will reveal dozens of sites that give standard formatting guidelines for a press release. Or you may want to refer to The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual, Norm Goldstein, ed. Included below is a brief list of some of the standard elements of formatting.
  • Use 8 ½ x 11 size paper with your company letterhead, if possible.
  • Type in double-spaced, easy-to-read font, using one-inch margins.
  • Begin with “For Immediate Release” at the top of the first page.
  • Include contact information before the main body of the release.
  • Your release should include a headline, lead paragraph, body and company description.
  • If your press release moves onto a second page, type “-more-“ at the bottom of the first page and an abbreviated headline at the top of the second page.
  • Type “###” at the end of the final page to signal the close of your release.

Following the suggestions laid out in these tips will put you on the road to writing an effective, compelling press release that is sure to be noticed. For a detailed fact sheet on Writing an Effective Press Release, complete with template and checklist, contact Spectrum Writing Services at


Copyright © 2006 Spectrum Writing Services. All rights reserved.

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