Style and formatting—There are several content and layout elements that should be included in every press release issued to the media:

  1. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: These words (all uppercase) should appear in the upper right- or left-hand margin.
  2. Contact information: List the name, title, telephone, e-mail, and fax numbers of your organizational spokesperson (or the person who is most knowledgeable or expert on the subject). Reporters work on tight deadlines and may need to reach you after business hours, so include cell phone and/or home phone numbers.
  3. Headline: Headlines should be concise, attention-getting, and capture the essence of your news. Use a large, boldface type to format the text.
  4. Lead paragraph: The “lead” or first paragraph must gain the reader's attention and should contain the most important, relevant information. Include the journalistic who, what, when, where, why, and how.
  5. Text: Subsequent paragraphs should fully develop a message and provide more detail. Always remember the text should support why the information is newsworthy. Include relevant information about your learning center and its services or benefits, especially if new or unique. Include direct quotes from staff, students, and instructors, if possible.
  6. Organizational history: Provide a brief (3-4 sentences) history or “boilerplate” copy about your learning center. Keep it short and concise.
  7. Closing: The last paragraph can direct readers to a Web site, phone number, or individual for additional information regarding the news.

Tips for writing press releases

  1. Keep press releases to one page. Only use two pages when absolutely necessary.
  2. The first ten words of your release are most important—make sure they are effective.
  3. Wait until you have information with enough substance to issue a release (that is, make sure the information is newsworthy).
  4. Stick to the facts. Avoid excessive use of jargon and superlatives.
  5. Explain to the audience why the information is important and why they should read it.
  6. Start with a brief description of the news. Distinguish who announced it (not the other way around).
  7. Ask yourself, "How will my audience relate to this and will they be able to connect?"
  8. Provide the name of an individual to contact, including address, phone, fax, e-mail, Web site address. Make it as easy as possible for the media to cover your news.

Sample press release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: September XX, 2006
Contact: Name of spokesperson
Telephone number: Spokesperson's Direct Line
Fax number: insert here
E-mail address: insert here
Web site: insert here

Headline (summarize the importance of your news)

City, State — Lead paragraph should contain: who, what, when, where, why, and how. If your news is about an event, like an open house or a new class, include dates, times, and location.

Remainder of body text and subsequent paragraphs should include relevant information about your learning center. “Our learning center has a unique new service that we invite the public to learn more about,” said Jane Jones, director.

Explain the benefits of your learning center to the general public and prospective students. Add additional quotes from satisfied students or users of the center’s services.

Tell readers briefly about your organizational history in three to four sentences (maximum).

If you must include another page to the release (try to keep all releases to one page), use the the “-more-“ footer below to indicate that there is more information on the next page:

-more-

At the top of the second page, use this header: Repeat or abbreviate your headline (page 2)

Continue with additional paragraphs until your message and text is complete.

Describe your organizational history briefly.

The last paragraph should be: For additional information, please contact [name of an individual], at [phone number], or [e-mail address], or visit [URL for Web site].

Include this footer at the end of the last page to indicate the release is finished:

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