Writing a Press Release

A good press release can determine where your story ends up – in the news or in the garbage. Following these guidelines can help get you the press coverage you want.

  1. Include the most important information first. The who, what, where, and when of your story should be in the first paragraph (ideally the first sentence) of your press release. You don’t want someone wading through lots of background information about your organization to find the most pertinent details of your story.
  2. Explain – but keep it short. The “why” of your story should come right after your lead. This is where you offer a little background about your organization and briefly explain your reasons for holding this event or publicizing this issue. This is a nice place to include a meaningful quotation from a volunteer, client, or your Executive Director. If you hone this section to a short, clear paragraph, you have a better chance that it will be published in full. Otherwise, you may end up with edits that alter your message significantly.
  3. Include a compelling headline. Give your press release a title that clearly communicates you have an interesting story to tell. Try to offer some sort of “hook” to draw the reader in. Often this is a human interest angle, but it can also be a local celebrity, connection to a national story, holiday tie-in, etc.
  4. Follow the standard format. Many online sources provide examples of standard press release format (see below). In general, you want to ensure that your press release includes a contact name and contact information, clarification of when the news may be released (usually “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”), four or five paragraphs of content, and three centered pound signs (###) to indicate the end of the release.

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