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  • Writer's pictureKriti Kumari

Formatting a Press Release

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

Now that we understand the content and the structure of a proper press release, as well as what to say and how to say it, it’s time we looked at how we lay it all out. As we mentioned last time, a press release has a very specific format it needs to follow. While deviating from this might seem like a stroke of creative genius, it’s a good way to get your release ignored.





Check below the standard formatting for press releases:

______________________________________________________________________________


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

  • Headline

  • Optional Subhead

  • CITY, State, Month XX, 20XX - Opening Paragraph

  • Body paragraphs (3-5)

  • Optional Boilerplate

  • Contact:

  • Name of Media Contact

  • Title of Media Contact

  • Company Name

  • Contact Phone Number

  • Contact E-mail

  • Website URL

# # #

______________________________________________________________________________


By design, this format has a lot of empty white space, making it easier to read on a computer screen, which is how most (if not all) journalists will receive your release.


PRO Tip: Every press release begins with “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.” It goes at the top of the release and is written in all caps. This signifies that a press-ready news lead is ready for the taking.


Again, this is the standard format for a press release, and it is what a journalist will expect to see when they open the document. Don’t try to be clever or creative. Remember, we want to get to the point quickly and clearly. Let the journalist worry about making it fancy for their audience.


For a better understanding, let’s look at this format after it’s been fleshed out with a review of some of the style tips we’ve discussed so far:


______________________________________________________________________________


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Headlines Should Explain the Purpose of the Release in One Sentence

Subheads (optional) are for pertinent information that won’t fit or doesn’t need to be in the headline

CITY, State [use AP Style abbreviations], Month [abbreviated if more than five letters] Day, Year- The opening paragraph is where you should concisely overview the most important information in your release. Present the 5 Ws. These first few sentences should be straight to the point.


After the opening paragraph, the following body paragraphs should begin to explain the purpose of the release more fully. Be sure to keep the content topical and informative so the journalist will continue reading. You can easily do this by addressing the five basic questions that journalists are concerned with: who, what, when, where, and why. Be precise; aim for 350-500 words total for the entire release.


“Don’t overuse quotes. One is plenty. Make sure it contains worthwhile information that comes from someone prominent or important in the company,” said James Smith, founder of #CompanyName, LLC. Use the person’s full name the first time you refer to them.


“If you have to quote or refer to someone more than once, it is acceptable to use just their last name for each subsequent mention,” Smith said.


Don’t forget to write out the address of your website fully, like this: http://www.example.com, rather than just hyperlinking the text. Use parenthesis If you want to include your website’s URL mid-sentence (http://www.example.com) as a modifier rather than as a subject or object.


For more information, visit http://www.yourcompanywebsite.com or call James Smith at (XXX) XXX-XXXX. About #CompanyName, LLC


This is where the company boilerplate will go. A boilerplate is a short paragraph that explains the identity of a company and what it does. A Boilerplate is optional, but it helps give the reader a quick overview of your business and can help journalists differentiate one company from the next. Additionally, you can substitute a boilerplate for an extra body paragraph if necessary.


Contact:

James Smith

Founder

XXX-XXX-XXXX

jsmith@company_email.com

http://www.your.companywebsite.com

# # #

______________________________________________________________________________


PRO Tip: In much the same way that every press release should begin with “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE,” It should also end with “# # #” which signifies the end of the release. While it is likely a holdover from older communication practices, the # # # is still in use today.



As you can see, the template provides a very concise layout for writing a press release. Not only does it help to keep the piece on track when writing, but it also helps the reader visually when reading.


While this covers the writing aspect of the press release, there’s still a bit of nuance to unpack that is key for ensuring you get the intended results.



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