Writing an Effective Press Release
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
Follow these tips when writing your press
release, and you’ll increase your chances that
it will get picked up by the media.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- Type in double-spaced,
easy-to-read font, using one-inch
- Begin with “For Immediate
Release” at the top of the first
- Include contact information
before the main body of the release.
- Your release should include a
headline, lead paragraph, body and
- 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
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
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