A press release is an announcement or summary of news to the press. A press release is similar to a news article, but it is not written by journalists. Instead, organizations or agencies representing organizations write and send press releases to news outlets. Journalists or editors may draft the press release as is, or they may use parts of it within a larger news story.
Press releases should be straightforward, written in the active voice, and follow any guidelines recommended by your target media outlet.
A well written press release should contain:
1. Headline and sub-headline
A headline is the opportunity to grab the reader’s attention. It should summarize what your news is about and encourage the reader keep reading. The sub-headline should describe the headline in more detail. Both are typically written in the subject-verb-object format and should be around 70 characters at most. For example:
Headline: County Health Department Launches Childhood Obesity Program
Subhead: Community grant keeps kids on playgrounds, off couches
2. The body is where the news story is written. The first paragraph should succinctly summarize the entire story, clearly articulating who, what, when, where, why, and how the story happened (or will happen). Subsequent paragraphs describe those same elements in further detail. Though there are ways to frame these details to provide a certain angle to the story, it is important to write facts only. The body is not a place for inserting opinions on an issue—this portion should be easy for media to draft directly.
3. Quote (for this assignment you can omit a quote). A quote from an organizational representative (usually a director or lead on a project) is a good way to achieve this editorial edge. You may also consider including a quote from a third party who can add credibility to your story.
For this assignment, your press release should be roughly 1 paragraph.