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Guidelines and Tips on How to Write a Press Release

What is a Press Release?

A press release is a document, usually e-mailed to reporters, which is designed to notify media outlets of a newsworthy event (this could be a rally, announcement, petition delivery, statement, or other event open to the public).

Getting Started

Press releases usually include the following elements:

  1. A masthead for the sponsoring organization (likely your congregation).
  2. The phrase “For Immediate Release.”
  3. The date.
  4. A headline describing the activity, announcement, development, statement, or other news.
  5. The city and state of the event or the sponsoring organization.
  6. A description of the event, including the time, date, and place.
  7. Quotations from leaders associated with the event.
  8. A description of the sponsoring organization.
  9. The name, title, phone number and email address for the designated spokesperson.

Distributing Press Releases

Develop a list of relevant reporters to whom you will email your press release. Try to identify journalists who write about topics that are closely related to your event. Your list may include reporters from local print, television, and radio reporters, as well as bloggers and reporters for online outlets. When you are emailing multiple reporters at once, make sure that they are bcc'ed so that the list of recipients is not visible. 

Additional Tips

  • While the release should be sent to as many relevant media contacts as possible, it should never be “blasted” to non-related outlets or contacts, or sent too many times.
  • The release should be concise; the ideal length is one page or less.
  • The release should read like a strongly-worded newspaper article; a well-written release may be reprinted directly in news outlets.

These guidelines were adapted from those developed for the Unitarian Universalist Association's Standing on the Side of Love (SSL) campaign; for additional SSL media materials, please visit SSL's Media 101 resources.

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This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 29, 2011.

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