Press Releases

Formatting Press Releases

Formatting a press release is simple. It should be laid out in full block style using universally accepted font selections.

Keep in mind, it is very important that a press release to be formatted for maximum consistency in transmitting across multiple computer platforms.

E-mail being the generally accepted method for delivering press releases, avoid using bold, italicized and colored text. It is unpredictable how that same text will appear on someone else's monitor.

The five basic elements of a press release are:

Title

A press release should always begin with the title words, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, or simply, PRESS RELEASE, printed in uppercase letters at the top of the page. This indicates to the media that the communication they are receiving is, in fact, a press release, and that it can be published immediately. It also eliminates the need for a cover letter.

If a press release should not be published immediately, the issuing organization must include an embargo, or lock up notification, in which the media is kindly but firmly requested to hold back publishing until the date and time indicated.

For example, before a press conference officially announcing a corporation's financial situation, the media will traditionally be sent a press release spelling out the full details, with an embargo inviting them to delay publication until after the press conference.

Headline

The headline, separated by one space, should follow the title of a press release. If at all possible, it should contain no more than ten words. The first letter of each key word should be capitalized. Articles, conjunctions, and prepositions should be capitalized only when they occur at the beginning or end of your headline.

Body

The body of a press release should contain all the information the media outlet is being asked to publish. It should be separated from the headline by one space, as should each of its paragraphs. A press release should begin with a lead paragraph and conclude with a boilerplate. A disclaimer should follow whenever an opportunity exists for information to be misconstrued.

Contact Information

The sender's contact information should always follow the body of a press release, separated by one space. This information should never be placed at the top of the page.

The top of a press release is premium copy space and should be reserved for attention grabbing copy such as a headline and lead paragraph. It should never be used for incidental information.

When a press release, delivered by E-mail, pops up on a computer monitor, the headline and lead paragraph should display prominently. The reader shouldn't have to scroll down in order to find these elements.

If a member of the media wishes to contact the source of a press release, they know to look for that information at the end of the document.

Ending

The end of the press release should be clearly marked with one of the universally accepted character sets used by the media to indicate that the end of a document has been reached, that all information has been received. Any of the following three will do the job:

                                           -30-      ###       End

If your press release is delivered by any other method than E-mail and exceeds one page in length, the word More should appear at the bottom of all but the last page.

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