How To Write a Press Release

Photography by Ivan Jones.

Here you will find advice on how to write and format a press release and promote your work or service to the media.

The best press or media releases are clear and to the point and tailored to the person receiving them. Creating a great press release can spark the interest of a journalist and lead the way to more coverage for you, including features and interviews.

The basics

  • Make sure you send your press release to the most relevant person and try and get hold of a specific name.
  • Always put the most interesting material at the top of your article.
  • Get a friend to read it to make sure it would be clear to someone who has not come across your work before, and does not contain spelling and grammar mistakes.
  • Send it early to make sure your press release is ready and waiting when a reporter logs into their email in the morning.

The lead

  • Press releases are written in the third person. "A promising Brixton-based artist is exhibiting her latest work at a high profile event next week" rather than "I am exhibiting my latest work at an event next week".
  • The first paragraph needs to include the who, what, when, where, how and why of the story. 
  • Make your introduction punchy. Never begin a story with the title of an institution, a proper name, or a number. For example, "LUKE Green, a 27-year-old researcher from Leeds University, has discovered a cure for cancer". 

The rest

  • Ideally, your media release writes the story so the journalist doesn't have to. 
  • Include quotations and put them near the top of the text. Include the name, age and job title (if relelvant) of anyone quoted. 
  • Include your contact details at the end of the press release in case the publication wants to follow it up. It’s best to include a phone number and email address.

Formatting

  • Keep it clear, concise, and well structured.
  • Put all the important information in the first couple of paragraphs.
  • Send it as a plain text email or word document, as a PDF may complicate the journalist’s job or ability to pull text.
  • Never send a press release as an attachment, as this may never get opened.

Style

  • Use plain language rather than technical terms.
  • Avoid hyperbole (words like “amazing”, “prodigy”, “genius”, “phenomenon”) and superlatives (“the best”, “the biggest”) unless it really is true.
  • Keep the whole thing as short as possible – one page should be plenty. If a journalist needs more information, they'll be in touch.

Headline

  • Start your press release with the date and the words PRESS RELEASE.
  • Keep your headline short, pithy and to the point. 
  • Tailor the headline to the publication you are targeting. A headline you write for a specialist art or design journal will be different from one for a local newspaper. Whoever you are sending your press release to, they need to be able to see the value of your news story for their readers.
  • If you are sending your press release by email, spend time constructing a well-written subject line.

Photos

Send a photo as an attachment if you can. A good picture with a caption can be the deciding factor in whether or not a story is used.

Notes to editors:
This final section gives background information to support your news story and should be written in bullet points. This could be information about you such as your educational background or other interesting projects you have been involved in.