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Writing Releases

When to use a press release?

See some examples

How to write a release?

Where to send your release?

How to write a release

Include all the facts necessary for a reporter to file a story, understanding that most reporters will also be making some follow-up calls before finalizing any story.

Write it in an inverted pyramid format: Conclusion first, then supporting facts, with the least interesting information at the end. The lead is used to grab a reporter's attention but should also concisely summarize your "news." Often a quote from a spokesperson is also included, although most newspapers rarely print quotes used in press releases. The last sentence or two should reiterate the mission statement of the organization announcing the news.

Releases may end with ### at the end as a signal to reporters that they have the entire document. Releases that are more than one page in length should state -more- or -continued- on the bottom of the first page so that reporters look for the next page.

At the top of the second page, use a one-word "slug" to indicate it is the second page of the release. For example, a release about logging issues in the Pacific Northwest might use the slug "logging/page 2." This is helpful should the two pages become separated at the fax machine.

Releases are sent on the sponsoring organization's letterhead with a date of release and a contact person's name clearly listed at the top, along with a phone number where journalists can reach the contact.

Releases can be embargoed until a specific date and time. This means that the information is restricted and that reporters can use it to prepare a story, but cannot publish it until the specified time. This is risky for organizations because journalists sometimes "break" embargoes. However, embargoing news allows the media to get a report or announcement early enough that they can evaluate it, use some of its information to write a story, and still file it in a timely fashion. Broken embargoes are not common.

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