Writing a Press Release

writinggroup.jpgYou may want to write a press release or be asked to write one by a journalist you have contacted. There are a few steps you can follow to maximise your chances of the media taking an interest in your story and reporting on your perspective favourably.

Go local.

Your best bet is to pitch your to release to your local media. They're more likely to express interest than national media outlets. 

Write a clear headline.

The top of your page or email should state in bold and large letters that it is a “Press Release”. This should be followed by a headline, which should give the reader a clear indication of what the issue is, e.g. Early Educators Demand Equal Pay on International Women’s Day. Try to make your headline catchy. Your headline is the first thing that will be read, so it should be short and engaging.

Follow protocol.

A press release should not be any longer than a single A4 sheet of paper. It is also important for the media to know exactly who has issued the press release. If you are writing it on behalf of an organisation, use its letterhead or include a logo. If you are writing it in an unofficial capacity, you must include your name and identify who you are, so that the reader can quickly grasp how you relate to issue you are writing about, e.g. Ms. Joanne Ng | Early Childhood Educator.

Grab their attention with your first sentence.

Capturing the importance of your issue in the first sentence is pivotal if you want the reader to keep reading! e.g. Today my colleagues and I are walking off our jobs because educators like us continue to be paid significantly less than men with similar qualifications.

Be succinct.

Try to make your sentences and paragraphs brief. Delete any words that you feel are unnecessary, and avoid any language that might confuse the reader.

Include quotes.

You must include direct quotes in your press release. Including them allows journalists to write about your action as if they were there, or have conducted an interview with a member of your group. Make sure the quotes you cover the key points you wish to make, as you may only have one or two of them included in an an article.

The people you have quoted in your press release should be identified by their full name and their position.

Be careful with the claims you make.

If you are making an assertion, ensure that you back it up with facts and figures. Avoid slander and other ad hominem remarks at all costs. This could be followed up in court and it may undermine the message you are trying to get across.

Include a call-to-action.

If there is a follow up action that can be included in an article, include it in your press release. This may include signing a petition or the demonstration of solidarity. If you would like people to attend an event, ensure that you include any relevant details.

Identify a contact person.

At the end of your press release, include the name of a contact person and their contact details. Provide information that will allow the contact person to take calls at a time convenient to the journalist.