How To Write A Press Release

How to write a press release so you can get publicity for your event.

A press release is a page or small packet of information that is given to the media (magazines, newspapers, television stations, etc.) to encourage them to give some attention to a particular event. For example, if you are holding a church fundraiser, you may want to send a letter to your local newspaper so that the newspaper can run a short announcement about it. Press releases are also sent out after an event has taken place.

There is really no set format for press releases when it comes to what they should look like. Press releases are not letters; they are more like memos. They are not very formal, nor are they very casual. They must, however, be typed and look professional.

Press releases should be sent at least 10 days before the event is to take place or no more than a day or two after an event has taken place.

A good press release will include the name, phone number, address, and alternate contact number of the sender. This should go either at the bottom of the page or the top of the page where it can be seen easily by an editor or reporter. Alongside the sender's name should be his/her title; for example, if the sender is a teacher, he/she will type his/her name, place a comma, and immediately after it type "teacher" so that the reader will know exactly with whom he/she is dealing. The sender contact information is the most important part of the press release because before anything is printed, an editor must double-check the information with the sender. If there is no way to get in contact with the sender, the editor will probably not use the information sent to him/her.

The second most important part of a press release is information on who is involved in the event or who is hosting the event. This information should be on a letterhead if possible. If a school is having a fundraiser, the press release should be written on the school's letterhead. If a small church is hosting an event and does not have a letterhead, a secretary should type a basic one. For example, the church's basic letterhead would include in this order, the name of the church, address, and phone number. This information, always at the very top of the page, tells the reader right away with what kind of group he/she is dealing.

Next is the date. The date is always near the top of the page, much like in a business letter. If you choose to place your sender information at the top of the page, then the date will go below that, aligned to the right. If not, the date is placed a line below the letterhead, aligned to the right. Press releases should be dated the day you expect them to be received. If you are typing it on April 2 but no one will read it until April 5, you date the press release April 5. This is done so that an editor or reporter does not confuse your press release with an older press release or older material. New material always catches the attention of the media, so keep those dates current.

The next part is the memo line. This is much like a headline. It is a phrase of a few words or a short sentence about what you are trying to publicize. For a church fundraiser you might write: "Church to Raise Money For Homeless." The memo line is simple but at the same time should provide enough information to serve as an introduction. This line should also be in all capital letters and bolded.

For the body of the press release, try to keep it short. Provide a brief description of the event, and include as many intriguing and eye-catching details that will make the media want to publicize it. For a small event, a one-page press release should be sufficient. For a larger regional event or one involving a celebrity or major company, background information should be included; this kind of press release is usually around five pages.

For a press release about an event that has already passed, it may be helpful to include a few quotes from people who attended the event. This will provide the reader with a better sense of what went on at the event and how people reacted to it. It will also help an editor or reporter put together a story on the event if they choose to write one.

At the end of the press release, much like a letter, the sender signs it and below the signature should be the sender's name and title. Below the closing, some people choose to list the publications and other media outlets where they have sent the press release. This is not necessary but can work to your advantage in that it shows editors how much publicity your event is likely to receive. Lastly, always check with the editors about which method of communication is easiest for them: fax, e-mail, snail mail, or even by telephone.

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