News releases are a great way to share news with reporters, and learning how to write a good release can go a long way in ensuring that local media tells your stories, your way.
Here is how to write a release.
Releases should be brief, rarely more than one page in length. In the top left corner of your document, include your name, telephone number, and email address preceded by “Please direct inquiries to:”
After a blank line, add “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:” followed by the date of the release, all in capital letters.
After another blank line write a short but compelling headline, centered and in bold. This can be followed just below the headline by a subhead that is centered, unbolded, and in italics.
After another blank line, start the body of your release, left or full justified, starting with the name of your city and state in bold followed by two hyphens.
Then, write the first paragraph by providing the most important information first, using the “inverted pyramid” format. This first paragraph should be brief, never more than four sentences. Again, include only the most important information.
The second paragraph of the release can provide additional details that build on the items in the first paragraph. For example, if you announced that the district has won a prestigious award, in the second paragraph you might provide the name of the award and a bit of background information about the award selection process and previous winners.
In your third paragraph, you should provide a quote. Try to make your quotes as realistic as possible. It often works best to provide a two-sentence quote by writing one quoted sentence and including… “said, First Name Last Name, Position, School or District Name.” Then, include a second sentence for the quote itself.
Make sure the quoted individual is available in the hours after the release for any follow-up queries from the media.
An example: “The Anytown School District is thrilled to win the U.S. Department of Education Award for Greatness,” said John Doe, Superintendent, Anytown School District. “This award is a reflection of the outstanding work of our staff, parents and, of course, our students.”
In the fourth paragraph, you can provide some additional information that is less important. Again, this paragraph should be no more than three or four sentences.
The fifth paragraph can be another set of quotes formatted exactly like the third paragraph. The quotes can be attributed to the same person or someone else. If you attribute the quote to the same person, use just the person’s last name instead of the full name and title.
The release can end with that second set of quotes or you can add a sixth paragraph composed of a very brief, ideally one-sentence, closing paragraph.
It is standard practice to end the release with three centered hash marks (###).
As with all skills, writing releases gets easier with time and practice.