Chapter 9: Public Relations Writing
52 Press release structure and format
The release should be written on the company letterhead, with the words “Press Release” or “News Release” at the top left corner of the page. Below this, indicate when the information is available for publication. The term “immediate release” means the information is ready to publish and can be used by journalists as soon as they receive it. Occasionally, you might want more time to gather other information, or would prefer that the journalist publish the announcement at a later date. In this case, use the term “under embargo until” followed by the embargo date, which is when you will allow the journalist to publish the information. Put the press release date below the “immediate release” or “under embargo until” statement. Always include contact information for the journalist’s reference, preferably at the top right corner.
Write the body of the press release using news writing techniques and style. Be sure to include a headline; you also may include a subheadline. Provide a dateline, followed by the summary lead. Here’s an example:
Be sure to use the inverted pyramid to organize the information throughout the press release. Include at least two quotes, one from the company or organization and another from a third party (example: customer, volunteer, current or former attendee at the event). After you’ve finished with the body, put the boilerplate at the end of the document. The boilerplate provides information about the company or organization, similar to the “About Us” section that you might find on a company website.
The press release should be as concise as possible and ideally no longer than one page. If it exceeds one page, do not split paragraphs. Instead, put the word “more” at the bottom center of the first page to indicate to the reader that there is more content on a second page. Include three pound signs (###) or “-30-” at the bottom of the press release to indicate the end.
These sample press releases contain some of the basic elements:
- The Ohio State University
- Forever 21
- St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
- This article from Ragan’s PR Daily provides suggestions to improve your public relations writing.
- An additional article from Ragan’s PR Daily explains common press release mistakes.