Press Release Writing 101

Last summer, as I confidently walked into my first internship, my certainty was instantly diminished when given my first task: a press release. I had never written a press release before and had no idea where to even begin. As I nervously grabbed my computer, sat down at my desk and scrolled aimlessly through Google, desperately skimming articles that would offer some helpful information, I slowly pieced together something that resembled a press release.

Now, I am in a college course with a focus on press release structure and because of that, I have a better understanding of the essential elements and construction of press release writing. If I could save someone else the horribly awkward feeling that I experienced during my internship, I would say this post would be a success.

Six Key Press Release Parts

  1. Logo. The logo should be located at the top and center of your press release. Use the logo of the company or organization you are writing about.
  2. Contact Information. Your contact information should be left-aligned below the image of the logo. The contact information should consist of your name, job title, phone number and email address.
  3. Headline. The headline is located centered underneath the contact information. The headline should allow the reader to know instantly what the press release is about.
  4. Date Line. The date line is left-aligned below the headline. It typically includes the city, state and date. Pay attention to AP Style rules in this section. Make sure the city is in all caps, the state is abbreviated as needed and the date is abbreviated as needed.
  5. Boilerplate. After you have written your press release, you will typically skip a couple of lines, insert “###” centered, skip a couple more lines and insert the boilerplate. The boilerplate is typically three or four sentences consisting of the company name, headquarters, founding and accolades.
  6. Footer. The footer should be the last item on your press release. The footer should include the company mailing address, phone number, website and social media outlets.

Paragraph Formation

Above, I listed the six must-haves of a press release. Now, I want to talk about the paragraph formations of a press release. Press releases typically consist of three core paragraphs but can certainly have more if needed.

Paragraph 1: This paragraph typically consists of the date line (as mentioned in the section above) along with the nut graph. Here you will find the who, what, when and where pieces of information about the news. This paragraph is typically three or four sentences.

Paragraph 2: This paragraph includes side information or fill-in details that are helpful to a journalist. This paragraph is often two to four sentences.

Paragraph 3: This paragraph consists of quotes. Quotes should begin the first sentence of the third paragraph because journalists will quickly see the quotation marks, in case they need context.

Haley Smalley is a senior at Samford University, finishing her major in journalism and mass communication with a public relations concentration. She will also have a minor in Spanish. Haley currently serves as a JMC Department ambassador. Connect with her on Twitter @haleybaron_.

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