A basic definition of a press release is anything that is sent to the media to announce a news item. It is sometimes referred to as a press statement, media release or news release and it should follow the standard press release format. These releases are typically sent to a wide range of media sources, including newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations, and online media.
Who Uses Press Releases and Why?
It is normally an absolutely essential tool for public relations and marketing professionals, and this written statement must announce a newsworthy item to the media. Press statements are generally received by reporters, bloggers, photojournalists and other media professionals.
Press statements can announce a variety of different news items, such as a feature story, an upcoming event, a promotional campaign, a new service or product, or an award or achievement.
General Formatting Information
A standard press release is formatted in the following way:
- Between 400 – 600 words (1-2 pages)
- No use of personal pronouns (I, you, we)
- A commonly used font (Calibri, or Times New Roman)
- Single-spaced paragraphs with a full line space in between
- White paper with 1″ margins
The Standard Press Release Format In Use Today
Whilst there are no set rules for writing a media release, professionals typically follow a series of conventions. Media representatives like journalists or bloggers often receive numerous press statements on a daily basis. Following the standard release format will ensure they can find important information quickly.
The header of a press release usually contains a company logo, contact information, and a release date. For urgent items, ‘for immediate release’ is written, otherwise ‘for release on’ is used, followed by a date and time.
The contact information is sometimes put at the end of the statement, but it should at a minimum include:
- Contact Name
- Company Name
- Telephone/Mobile/Fax Number
- E-mail address
- Website/Social Media Account Information
The Headline, Sub-headline, and Dateline
A well-written headline is an essential part of an effective press release. The headline should draw the reader in and encourage them to read the entire document. Headlines need to be short (between 80-160 characters), written in simple language, center-formatted, in a larger font and in bold.
While a sub-headline is not necessary, it’s an opportunity to further develop the main point of the news item. It should not be a mere repetition of the headline.
A dateline tells the reader the location and date of the news item and is written in capital letters. A dash is used to separate the dateline from the first sentence of the first body paragraph.
The Body Paragraphs And Boilerplate
The first body paragraph should contain only the most essential information relating to the news item. It should be factual and not focused on promoting a particular company or product.
The following paragraphs should give the reader a complete picture of the news item. They ought to be short (2-4 sentences) and usually include quotes, statistics, links and other types of media content such as pictures or videos.
The Boilerplate is the final paragraph of a press statement. It contains important company information and should be factual.
The last part of the standard press release format is the end notation. If the document is one page, it needs to be centre-formatted and at the bottom. If the document is more than one page, all the additional content should be written in the same manner.
The Importance Of A Well-Written Press Release
It’s hard to underestimate the importance of following the standard press release format. As for any communication with the media, it should be factual, grammatically correct and written in a professional style.