By Katrina Olson
If you search “news release” online and click “images,” you’ll find tons of different formats and layouts. If your company already has a template that you’re confident includes all necessary information, then by all means, use it. But if you rarely write news releases, this illustrated and notated guide will help you cover all the bases.
I taught the following format in my PR classes for 10 years. It’s pretty standard and includes all the information a journalist needs in a generally accepted format. Note: This news release is not real. California is not installing EV charging stations along Interstate 5.
There is some leeway. For example, some people put the contact information at the end; but I think it’s easier for journalists to find at the beginning. Also, including “For Immediate Release” isn’t absolutely necessary as PR people rarely embargo news releases anymore. (An embargo is when you send a news release but ask the journalist to hold it for future publication.)
Many features of this format hearken back to olden times of hard copy (paper) news releases. But even if you’re attaching a Word document to an email, it’s a good idea to include “—more—” at the bottom of the first page and the slug line at the top of the second page.
Photos with captions are also a nice touch. Embed them in the news release to indicate placement, but also attach a high-quality photo file to the email.
On the final page, some people put the triple hashtags (or pound signs) before the boilerplate. I prefer them after because it clarifies that the boilerplate should be included in the story. Also, if you add a note to the editor at the end, the triple hashtags separate the body of the news release from the note.
Notes to the editor are obviously not intended for publication, which is why it makes sense to put them after the triple hashtags. Use these notes to tell the journalist more about who you are, what your company does, what your background is, etc. Or, provide background about a company or organization you mentioned in the news release. You can also list your sources or references for the journalist to use when writing their story.
Olson is a marketing and public relations consultant, and principal of Katrina Olson Strategic Communications. She has written for tED magazine’s print edition since 2005, judged tED magazine’s Best of the Best Competition since 2006, and emceed the Best of the Best Awards ceremony for a total of seven years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via her website at katrinaolson.com.
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