The Beginner’s Guide to Sending a Press Release

By Kimberley Collins  |  28 November 2018  |  Beginner’s Guides

If you have breaking news or an important announcement, sending a press release is the quickest way to communicate your news with a large number of journalists and news outlets. In this post, we’ll cover who to send it to, what to consider, and what information to include.

The best way to send a media release is by emailing it to the news desk at the publication or news outlet that you want to reach. These are a shared inbox that can be accessed by a number of journalists at any given organisation.

To make sure your story stands out from the crowd, try to write your release in plain language, with the most important information at the top, and using a headline that grabs attention.

Journalists are under increasing time pressures, so writing in a way that appeals to their audience will help them to instantly see how their readers, listeners, or followers might relate to the story. You may even find that they copy and paste your story as it is!

So, what information should you include in your media release? 

Date

Include the date that your media release was written or when it will be released (if you have used an embargo).

Headline

The purpose of your headline is to catch the attention of a journalist (or reader) and encourage them to read further. It should summarise the key point of your story and be catchy, interesting, and strong. Make sure your headline is in bold.

Lead

Your lead paragraph is an important part of your release. It should be punchy and include the story hook. Make sure it includes:

  • Who did it
  • What they did
  • Where they did it
  • When they did it
  • Why they did it
  • How they did it

Body

The body is where you can expand on the lead and start to tell a story. You should prioritise messaging or points from the most important to the least important. Use short sentences and paragraphs with active language.

Always write in the third person and include quotes to make the story more interesting and relatable. Ensure all quotes are from a person within your organization or group as journalists will sometimes call to check quotes.

Your final paragraph includes the least important information or background information that is absolutely essential.
Finish the release with ENDS (in bold) so the journalist knows it has finished.

Contact information

This is where you can give the contact information for your media spokesperson. Include their name, email, and phone number. Before you hit send, make sure the contact person is properly briefed and in a place where they can take calls (if they are in the field, for example, make sure they will be in a place that has reception and access to a location where they can be easily heard for radio recordings).

Editor’s Notes

This is where you can include background information. It is intended to give the journalist an overview and isn’t necessarily included in the release.

Media

If you have photos or video associated with your media release, include them! Many news outlets have an online platform which means visual elements make a story more likely to be picked up.

You might include a paragraph directing the journalist to your media. If you are sending through large files, use an online storage tool such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Make sure to include captions and any usage rights for the photos (such as the photographer’s name).

Final tips and tricks…

Once you have written your media release, go through it and look for:

  • Spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Proper use of macrons.
  • Proper formatting of species names.
  • Unnecessary filler words (such as “that”, “and”, “so”, “very”, “just”, “but” etc)
  • Places where you have repeated yourself.
  • It can sometimes be helpful to read your media release aloud. Although you may feel silly, it helps to gauge how the writing flows and can improve overall readability.