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Press Release Writing

A press release is information, often written, sent to the news media with the intent of distributing it to the general public. It is alternatively referred to as a news release, a press statement, or a media release. It is a favoured tool of public relations officer who want to communicate to the general public. There is a standard format for press releases established today. This format involves the inclusion of a certain number of features in corresponding order, these are:

  • Letterhead
  • “For immediate release” (for non-embargoed releases)
  • Headline
  • Dateline
  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Quote
  • Boilerplate
  • Close
  • Background Contact Information

What makes a great press release?

A great press release takes a lot of work and the efforts of a professional public relations officer. It must contain the following elements:

  • A compelling headline to grab the attention of the reader
  • Accurate facts and statistics that give authenticity to the release
  • A concise manner of writing that excludes extraneous details
  • Sentences that go straight to the point
  • Background details of all relevant parties

Types of press release

News releases are differentiated largely by their usage. There are seven main types, these include:

  • Event press release
  • Product press release
  • Partnership press release
  • Award press release
  • Rebranding press release
  • New hire press release
  • Charitable press release

What is a press release?

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘press release’ and a majority of us will by now have a vague idea of what it means. When a celebrity, government official, or group gives a press release, you already know they have something to say, and are choosing to say it via the media. Since it is a press release, it will obviously reach the press first, who will then send it down to the rest of us. This understanding is close enough to the definition of a press release.

Alternatively called a news release, a press statement, and a media release; a press release is a statement or recording directed by a party to the news media, with the intention of having them disseminate it to the general public. Press releases are usually content that are deemed highly newsworthy. That is why the news media are eager enough to help the spread of the information contained within the release.

A press release can come in a number of forms. It could be a written statement, an audio or video recording, and any other item that conveys information. As long as it is sent directly to the news media to have them report it, it is a press release. The majority of press releases are carefully worded statements crafted by a public relations professional on someone else’s behalf.

What are the types of press release?

A press release is an important tool for a public relations officer. Over time it has evolved beyond a simple statement sent to a reporter. There are now seven established types of press releases. Each type is differentiated by its usage; they include:

  • Event press release is used to announce important upcoming events.
  • Product press release promotes the release of a new product or product line.
  • New hire press release is used to reveal a significant change in leadership.
  • Award press release is a way to publicise a newly received accolade.
  • Rebranding press release announces a significant change in a company’s structure.
  • Partnership press release informs the public of a finalised partnership with another company.
  • Charitable initiative press release shows the audience the charitable deeds of an entity.

What makes a great press release?

While it might look simple, a great press statement is often the work of dedicated effort by an experienced public relations officer. There are certain elements within a press statement that help you to see this. They include:

  • A compelling headline: This will proclaim the information within the news release legibly in such a way that it is easily understood, but more importantly it will quickly grab the attention of the audience.
  • Accurate facts: To be effective, it will have to contain indisputable facts that the audience can latch on to. This will often include statistics and historical information.
  • Conciseness: Press statements are not meant to be overly long messages. They should convey precise, understandable information in less than a thousand words.
  • Direct writing: They go straight to the point by making every sentence count.
  • Background Information: Press releases must contain the contact information and other relevant details of the sender and other parties referenced.

News Release Facts

  • Origin of the news release: The first in recorded history was sent by the Pennsylvania railroad company following a New Jersey train wreck back in 1906. The proposed purpose was to take responsibility and inform the public on the accurate details of the wreck.
  • Embargoing: This is a situation where a press statement is delivered to many news outlets but they are not allowed to report on its content for a specific amount of time. The reason for this often varies, but is generally a way for the sender or their clients to control the flow of information.
  • The internet: Press statements were initially designed for print reporters as the primary source of news, but has faced a lot of revision to meet the shift towards the internet. This means that press releases tend to be more concise today.

Press Releases FAQs

What is press release format?

There are certain features that a professionally written press statement mus have; they include:

  • Letterhead: The letterhead could be replaced with a simple company logo placed at the top of the release.
  • “For Immediate Release”: This alerts the press that there is no embargo and you want the release reported immediately.
  • Headline: This must be concise but informative, it should grab the attention of the reader immediately. A subheading could be included as well.
  • Dateline: This appears right after the heading but before the first paragraph.
  • Introduction: The first paragraph usually tells the who, what, when, where and why of the release.
  • Body: This provides supporting details, statistics, and facts.
  • Quote: A statement of fact lends authenticity to the entire release.
  • Boilerplate: This is a brief description of your organisation.
  • Close: Today it is indicated with “###” to show that the release is finished. It is sometimes "-30-".
  • Media Contact Information: This gives members of the media information on how to reach your organisation should the need arise.

How do you write a press release for a product?

A product press release is written in the standard format but with a focus on a product. The headline must present the product in the best possible light. The specs, importance, and actual release date for the product must be revealed within the first paragraph.

How long does it take to write a press release?

This will usually vary based on the skill level and the patience of the writer. Once you understand the basic format and details, it is entirely possible to craft a functional release within thirty minutes, however, it’s advisable you take time to revise your work before sending it in.

What is the overall purpose of a press release?

The general purpose of all press releases is to provide precise information to the general public. The motive behind this and the nature of the information will vary based on the sender. Today this is often a strategy meant to further the efforts of an organisation.