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resources: Tips for Writing Effective Press Releases

Tips for Writing Effective Press Releases

1. Send your releases on letterhead or stationery with your organization's name and logo that has been printed specifically for the release of press materials.
2. Indicate the date the release is being sent.
3. Specify the date and time the release should be printed.
4. List a contact person who can answer questions about the release. (Include his/her name, telephone number, E-mail address, and the best time to connect).
Write in an inverted pyramid with the most important information in the first paragraph.
6. In your release be sure to answer “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why,” and “how.”
7. Show how the information relates to the reader.(Why should he or she be interested?)
8. Support your story with statistics, quotes, examples and so on.
9. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short.Newspapers are written at the eighth-grade level.
10. Double-check your spelling and grammar.
11. Avoid jargon.
12. End each release with a stock paragraph that gives details about your organization such as its mission, key programs, and the numbers it serves.
Keep the release to one page if possible.Show you have reached the end by using either “– 30 –“ or “#####.”
14. If your release goes onto a second page indicate that there is additional information by writing “more” at the bottom of the first page.
15. Double-space your release and leave large margins.
16. When selecting pictures to accompany a press release, go for action shots wherever possible.Traditional “grip and grins” (people shaking hands while holding a plaque or check) are over-used and therefore will rarely capture an editor's interest.
17. Compose photos vertically.Editors with limited space will be more likely to use your picture over another that is composed horizontally.
18 When sending pictures, spell out everyone's name.Work left to right.
Send short factoids that the newspaper can use anytime if it has some space.
20. Familiarize yourself with the publications to which you are submitting releases.
21. Write with each publication's unique audience in mind.This often means writing more than one release.
22. Research to whom the release should be sent.
23. Confirm that your contact list is current.
24. Ask each of your contacts how he or she prefers to receive your release (e.g., mail, fax, E-mail).
Do not attach your release as an E-mail file.Most media people will not open attachments for fear of viruses.
When calling a reporter or editor, always ask if the individual is on deadline.
Don't call just to see if your release was received.
28. When a release is published, call or write to thank your contact.
29. Be understanding if your release is not published as you wrote it.Space is always a premium.

updated 10/23/07