On Writing News Releases

by Mario Lozano on Jul 20

in Press Release Writing

What makes a story newsworthy? For the media to consider your announcement newsworthy it must have a strong news angle and be interesting. The angle (or news peg) is the story hook; the news event; the controlling issue; the reason for the media to publish your story. Your news release should be written objectively and preferably in third person. Remember, publicity is not advertising. Your news release needs tell people your story.

Common news angles include:

  • Human Interest
  • New Development
  • Local Angle
  • Conflict
  • Drama
  • Progress and Disaster
  • Consequence
  • Eminence and Prominence
  • Timeliness and Proximity
  • Sex and Romance
  • Novelty

Headline Must Grab Reader’s Attention

  • The headline should convey a snapshot of what the news release is about.
  • Use keywords such as announces, introduces, unveils, launches, opens, promotes, licenses, presents etc. to achieve this.
  • Your headline is the first, and often the only, thing an editor reads. Headlines must immediately grab the readers’ attention otherwise your press release is dead.
  • For search engine optimization purposes: Limit your headline to no more than 65 characters.
  • Many search engines have a limit on how many character they can receive from the page title, which is pulled straight from your headline.
  • The headline should include the name of the organization issuing the press release.
  • Do not use all caps or exclamation points.

Using Newspaper Style

Here are a few guidelines to consider when writing your news release:

  • News releases should be clear, concise, accurate and interesting. They should be written in inverted-pyramid style, with the most important information at the top. Your facts must be reliable.
  • The purpose of the lead (first paragraph) is to make a clear statement of the essential news facts that make your release newsworthy.
  • A news release must answer the six basic questions all journalists will ask: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How?
  • Use short sentences. Aim for an average sentence length of 16 to 17 words.
  • Always use active voice.
  • Use adjectives and adverbs only when necessary.
  • Avoid jargon, long words or buzz words.
  • Exercise proper grammar and punctuation. Check for typos and mistakes.
  • Write your press release from an objective point of view.
  • Write in third person not first or second person.
  • The only time your press release should contain pronouns such as I, we, us, or, your, etc. is when you are quoting someone. Opinions should only be expressed inside quotation marks.
  • Writing is a process. Writing means rewriting. Read your press release aloud to make sure it reads well.
  • Double check phone numbers, email addresses, and URLs.
  • If you include a date with your press release, make sure it syncs with the release date automatically stamped by the system.
  • Include contact information: name, phone number and email (preferably not your personal email address.)
  • Make sure to end your release with “###”

Length Matters

Your press release should be no more than two pages with a compelling headline that will grab the reader’s attention within ten seconds. Releases that are less than 50 words in length tend to read like an advertisement and will not be accepted.

End Note

Remember to include a brief overview about your organization in the last paragraph. The title for this section should read, “Note to Editors” or “About (insert your organization’s name here).”

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