SIDS Program Manual SIDS & Infant Death Program Manual and Trainer's Guide Trainer's Guide

Public Relations & the Media

Press Releases

Writing Your Press Release

Keep the following points in mind when writing your press release:2

  • Is your news newsworthy? The purpose of a press release is to inform the world of your news item. Do not use your press release to try and make a sale. If you read your press release and it reads like an advertisement, rewrite it.
  • Start strong. Your headline and lead should tell the story. The rest of your press release should provide the detail.
  • Write for the media. On occasion, media outlets, especially online media, will pick up your press release and run it in their publications with little or no modification to what you send. More commonly, journalists will use your press release as a springboard for a larger feature story. In either case, try to develop the story as you would like to have it told.
  • Not everything is news. Think about your audience. Think about news values and ask yourself, “so what?”
  • Stick to the facts. Tell the truth. Avoid fluff, embellishments and exaggerations.
  • Pick an angle. Try to make your press release timely. Tie your news to current events or social issues if possible. Make sure that your story has a good hook.
  • Use active, not passive, voice. Verbs in the active voice bring your press release to life. Rather than writing “entered into a partnership” use “partnered” instead. Do not be afraid to use strong verbs as well. Avoid gerunds (-ing words). “We are helping...” versus “We help...”
  • Economics of words. Use only enough words to tell your story. Avoid using unnecessary adjectives, flowery language or redundant expressions. If you can tell your story with fewer words, do it. Wordiness distracts from your story. Keep it concise. Make each word count.
  • Beware of jargon. The best way to communicate your news is to speak plainly, using ordinary language. Make sure all medical terms are thoroughly explained.
  • Avoid the hype. The exclamation point is your enemy. There is no better way to destroy your credibility than to include a bunch of hype. If you must use an exclamation point, use one. Never do this!
  • Get permission. Be sure that you have permission before including information or quotes from employees or other organizations.