A complete guide to writing an effective press release

How to structure a press release

Timing – for immediate release or embargo?

Indicate at the top of the release whether it is for immediate release or under embargo, and if so, give the relevant date. Remember that it can be frustrating for journalists to receive information under embargo that cannot be published straight away. An embargo does not mean that journalists can’t contact you about your story. It just means that you are asking them not to publish it before a particular date.

Give the press release a title

The job of the press release title is to grab attention and encourage the journalist to read more. Don’t waste time stressing over what title will look like in print – most journalists/editors will change the title to suit their readership.

How to end the press release

Signal the end of the press release with the word “Ends” in bold. After “Ends”, write “For further information, please contact” and list your details or those of an appointed person. Do give a mobile number if you can, so that journalists can contact you easily. The more accessible you are, the better.

If any further information is needed, these can go in “Notes to editors” under the contact information. Examples might include background information on the company (called a boilerplate), or a note saying that photos are available. It’s helpful to number these points, to make your press release as clean as possible.

Who should I send a press release to?

It’s essential to research the press and media[10] you will be targeting with your press release. Get hold of back copies and tune in to relevant radio and TV programmes. This will enable you to tailor your story to suit.

For any news story, there are many angles that can be used. If a business launches a new product, there might be mileage in targeting any, or all, of the following:

  • local press (the area in which the company is based);
  • specialist press (the company’s sector);
  • specialist press (read by people who will benefit from the news in the release);
  • consumer press (if there is a more mainstream benefit);
  • national press (if there is a significant impact or change).

When you do your research, identify working patterns and deadlines. Many weekly local papers[11], for example, have a Tuesday deadline for Thursday publication. So, you might be wise not to issue a time-sensitive press release to that audience on a Wednesday.

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