How to Write a Press Release

Immediate Release: If the release is for immediate use, indicate that by putting the words "Immediate Release." If it isn't for immediate release, put the date at which the information is to be released.

Contact Information:  Include a name, phone number, and email address. Other helpful information that could be included is the website address, YouTube video links, Facebook page, etc.

Headline: State your most exciting news, finding, or announcement in as few words as possible. Emulate the headlines you see in the newspaper every day. The headline definitely needs a verb.

Lead Paragraph: Write it in third person. Use pronouns such as "he,” “she,” and “they.” Then, it's Journalism 101 -- the lead paragraph includes the who, what, when, where and how of the story. Do not use hype in the first paragraph; stick to the facts.  If only the first paragraph gets published, the reader should know all they need to know about the event.

The Middle:  This is where you add detail about whatever was stated in the first paragraph. If you are writing about a band, it’s where you put in the band members names and their instruments. If this is a film, follow with a short plot description but don’t spoil the film. 

Add information about who the band has opened for or venues played (if they are recognizable names). Artists can talk about who they studied under, or galleries they have shown in (if they are recognizable names). Talk about albums in the works and discography. Be sure to avoid the use of too much jargon. For one person the word Batik might mean fabric, for another it might mean a watercolor technique. Let the reader understand what they should expect to see. For film and theater, it’s a good time to talk about if it is based on a novel or the history and importance of the work. Use quotes of critics/reviews instead of self-hype. 

Try to avoid bulleted lists. Bulleted lists of events, musicians, and other items in your body copy don't fit well into print. List those items in sentence form; for example: "Band members include Doug Reed on bass, Melody Streets on keyboard, …”

Finally, if you are writing on behalf of an organization or business, add your elevator speech – one of two sentences that describe what your organization or business does.

Some Key Things to Remember

·         Avoid hyped up phrases like "best,” "unique", "state-of-the-art,” etc.

·         Always write it from a journalist's perspective. Never use "I" or "we" unless it's in a quote.

·         Keep it to one page or less.

·         Avoid unnecessary capitalization. Don't capitalize words that don't need to be capitalized, even if they're important. Avoid this: "The Strawberry Festival will feature Live Music, along with Arts & Crafts vendors, Good Food, and Fun for Kids!"

Ending:  End the release with a ### sign to indicate the end of the document.

Include a calendar blurb: If a publication or website features a calendar and you're publicizing an event, include a much-shortened blurb about your event. Include city, name, dates and times, location name and address, and the highlights. This also allows an editor to put this information into a box near your release.

Always send supporting images or graphics. 


A Little About Photos

Include captions: Use captions with your photos to make them even more interesting. Describe what's going on in the photo using a complete sentence or two (with a verb).

Remember the credit:  Be sure to credit the photographer in each caption. Use "Photo by (name of photographer, and company, if applicable). "If the photographer doesn’t want to be credited, use "Photo courtesy of (name)" instead.

The bigger, the better: High resolution photos look better in print and online; editors have more flexibility with their use when they can re-size and crop the photos as needed.

Always go JPEG: JPEG (or JPG) is the format of choice for distributing photos. Posters need to be in JPEG as well.

Never embed photos: Do not embed photos into your press release document; they should accompany the release as separate files.

A Little About Posters

Text:  Always include the what, who, when, and where.  Use only one font (two at most) throughout the poster. Make sure the font stands out from the image and is easy to read.  Font (depending on the type) should be at least 20 pixels large. Preferred sizing is 11 inches wide and 17 inches tall.

Logo: Include your sponsor’s logo as well as the venue.

Tasteful:  Remember that children are going to see the posters.