Writing a Press Release

A press release is a statement issued to the media - usually outlining a specific newsworthy story or item. Community groups have plenty of stories and news to tell people about - from reporting on the success of your last fundraising event, to campaigning for your cause. A press release offers your community group opportunity for free publicity and is an excellent way of getting your story into the paper, on the radio or even television.

What makes a good Press Release?

Firstly, make sure the information is newsworthy. Will people want to read or hear about it? Try to personalise your press release with a ‘human interest’ story.

A bold start

  • make sure that the first paragraph of your press release grabs the audience’s attention immediately. It should tell the audience what the article is about, that the information is intended for them and why they should continue to read it

  • try to limit the press release to the three main points that you want to get across

Keep it simple

  • Use short sentences, clear wording and positive language

  • do not use jargon

  • keep it brief and concise

  • use double spacing, wide margins and produce single sided copy, try not to split paragraphs or sentences over two pages

Bringing it to life

  • Use quotations if you can but always attribute your quotes to the relevant person and get authorisation to use it

  • pictures will help to bring your story to life  - remember to enclose captions for any photograph you provide – detailing who or what is depicted

What do you want people to do once they have read or heard your news?

  • make it clear what action you want people to take – are you simply directing them to your website for more information? Are you asking them to contact you?

  • always include your group’s contact details and website at the end so people can contact you

Deadlines and embargo dates

  • date your press release and indicate if you are happy for the item to be made public immediately

  • if your news item relates to a particular time or date in the future or you do not want it going ‘live’ before a particular date – tell the media. This is referred to as an embargo date – the date from which your news item can be made public

Issuing your Press Release

  • the quickest way to send a press release is by email, giving it a catchy and readable subject will grab the journalist’s attention

  • if you are sending your press release by email - send it as a PDF. If the editor or journalist decides to take up your story, they can come back to you for an editable copy

  • when sending a printed press release, use headed notepaper for the first page and plain for any subsequent pages

  • staple your pages together and make sure that each page is numbered and has the name of your group and news story on each page

Who to send your Press Release to

Knowing who to send your press release to can be very difficult.  Researching newspapers, TV and radio can help you build a media list to keep a record of contacts and the type of stories they cover.

Knowing and understanding your audience will help you target the best press or media for your press release. For example, if your story is of local interest concentrate on the local media. If your news story relates to a larger community campaign or is of wider interest then plan to send it to national and specialist media agencies.

All media agencies will have an editorial or press desk where you can send your press release. Always send the release to a named individual (the editor or a particular journalist) who specialises in your type of story. Remember to send them well within the editorial deadline.

You can also send your press release to the Press Association Scotland and other agencies who offer a syndicated service however there may be a charge for this service.