Tips on writing news releases

Draft a release that will get your story picked up by reporters

News releases (also called press releases) are two- to four-page reports of a newsworthy event. Reporters often rely on these releases to pick up stories about events in the community, so it's important to be ready to write them.

Key tips about news releases:

  • News releases should sound like a news story written by a sympathetic reporter. That means that they should be written in a reporter's voice, not an advocate's. Commentary in a news release should be in quotes and attributed to your spokesperson.
     
  • News releases should have a headline. Some may also have a "subhead," or a second headline.
     
  • News releases should have a "lead paragraph" that clearly states the news of the release, and answers the Who, What, When, Where and Why questions.
     
  • Many news releases are structured as follows (see Sample below):

Lead Paragraph: Who, What, When, Where, Why
2nd Paragraph: Quote from organizational spokesperson
3rd Paragraph: More information about the announcement
4th Paragraph: More information and examples
5th Paragraph: Second quote from another organizational spokesperson
6th Paragraph: Contact information for the organization

  • Don't forget to include at the top of the document a name and phone number of someone the media can contact to follow up. Be sure to date the document. 
  • To build credibility with your local media, only send out a news release when you have a newsworthy event or story.

 

Sample News Release

For Immediate Release
October 16, 2014

Contact: Jill Smith
(513) 555-1234

MAYOR MILLSTONE 'TURNS ON THE LIGHTS' OF JUST FOR KIDS' AFTERSCHOOL PROGRAM

Program Will Provide Tutoring, Sports & Creative Arts For Local Middle School Students

Rivertowne, Ohio - Mayor Stephanie Millstone joined the principal and faculty members of Stevens Middle School, business leaders and local families today for the grand opening of Stevens Middle School's afterschool program, Just For Kids. At exactly 3 p.m., the mayor "turned on the lights for afterschool." Nearly a third of the students attending Stevens Middle School have already enrolled in the program that will provide three hours (3 p.m. - 6 p.m.) of supervised afterschool activities, including homework assistance, arts and crafts, and recreation. The program is open to students in grades six to eight. Program leaders say that 250 students are likely to be enrolled in the next month.

"The need and demand for high quality afterschool programs in our city is tremendous," said Mayor Millstone. "Too many children are unsupervised between the time the school doors close and parents get home from work. Just For Kids will help give children educational, safe, exciting places to spend their time after school."

More than 28 million school-age children have either their only parent or both parents working outside the home. More than 11 million "latchkey children" go home afterschool each day to a house with no adult supervision, and without the opportunities to learn that afterschool programs can provide.

"We are proud our school is a part of the Rivertowne Student Success program and that it is helping to better meet the needs of our students and their families," said Michael Koss, Principal of Stevens Middle School. "Afterschool programs pay enormous benefits. They inspire children to learn. They keep kids safe in the sometimes perilous afterschool hours. And they help working parents keep working, free of fears about what their kids might be up to after the end of the regular school day."

Just For Kids is the tenth afterschool program established through the Rivertowne Student Success program in the past two years, with nearly 2,000 students enrolled. The nine other participating schools offering afterschool programs have seen a noticeable improvement in the students' grades, fewer disciplinary problems and higher attendance rates. The Rivertowne police department reports there has been a lower rate of juvenile crime between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. since the Student Success program began.

Rivertowne Student Success program is a collaborative effort of the Mayor's office and the Rivertowne School District with the goal of making afterschool programs available to every public elementary and middle school student in the city. For more information about Rivertowne Student Success program, contact Jennifer Greene at (513) 555-4567. Parents interested in enrolling their child in Just For Kids should call (513) 555-2345.