Your press release needs more than just a great story to grab media attention. It must also follow the standard press release format, which contains your logo, release date, contact information, headline, a three-to-four paragraph body, a boilerplate, a link to your website, and relevant multimedia. By upholding this journalist-expected format, your press release has a better chance of landing media coverage.
If you’re not an expert, writing a press release that effectively gets the media’s attention is no easy feat. For this reason, many businesses leave press release writing and distribution up to professionals, like the experts at eReleases. Give your press release a leg up and get started with eReleases today.
Free Press Release Template
To ensure you get your formatting right, download our free press release template before writing your release to guide you through each of the sections described below.
Press Release Format by Type
While all releases follow the same general press release format, they vary slightly depending on the purpose of the press release, the type of media you include (e.g., images, video), and your overarching goal. For example, the information and media detailed within a book press release will differ from those in an event press release.
Here are four common types of press releases with guidance on what content to include and their specific formatting:
If none of these fit the bill, use the standard press release format and follow the instructions below to write your newsworthy story using our free press release template.
The Required Elements of the Press Release Format
A press release contains your business logo, a headline, a lead paragraph summarizing the announcement, and a newsworthy angle. Your press release will have three to four paragraphs of text within the body, hyperlinks, social media links, quotes, and multimedia. It concludes with information about your organization (your boilerplate) and contact information. The total length should be between 300 and 500 words.
To boost the brand awareness impact of your press release, your company logo should be prominently displayed at the top of your press release. When sending your press release via email, be sure to also upload a 200×200-pixel version of your logo so journalists can include it in their stories. That way, journalists don’t have to try to extract a copy of your logo from the press release, which would likely reduce image quality.
Put your contact information to the right of the logo. This includes the ways a journalist can contact the person within your company who can answer questions about this press release. Include their name, email address, and phone number so journalists can easily reach the primary contact using the method they prefer. This text should be left-justified, but positioned along the right margin. Here is how the contact information on your release should appear:
Contact: John Smith
Phone: (123) 456-7890
Release Date or Dateline
The release date indicates when you want the release to be published and the information in your press release to be written about. It tells journalists whether you want your press release news written about or published immediately or at a future time.
Add your desired publication date and time in the top-left corner of your press release in all caps and in bold. If your press release is ready to be distributed right away, include the words “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” at the top left corner of your press release.
Alternately, when you want the media to hold onto your press release for future release (but you are sending it ahead of time to ensure coverage), it’s called an “embargoed” release. In that case, put the words “EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE” in the top left-hand corner and then add the date and time you want the press release and any related media stories to go live.
A press release headline appears at the top and center of your press release but below the logo, contact information, and release date. Keep your headline short and to the point, typed in 14-point size, bold, and centered. Try to stay within the 65- to 80-character range, and use language that is clear and easy to understand.
The headline is usually the most eye-catching part of your press release, and you need it to compel people to read your press release. It should reflect the most newsworthy angle of your release―the main reason your target audience would care about your news. When you distribute your release to journalists who share that audience, they are more likely to publish your story, because it is clear why their audiences would care.
For more help, learn how to write a press release.
A subheader can be up to 120 characters in length and appears directly below your headline. Subheaders allow you to capture readers’ attention and help them better understand what your press release is about. It gives you another opportunity to develop your story angle with a teaser that encourages further reading. It should be formatted in italicized 12-point Times New Roman font and in title case (title-style capitalization).
Place Stamp & Date
The place stamp and date of your lead paragraph is separated from the first body paragraph by a dash. It needs to show the location (usually the city) where the press release is coming from and the date it is published. Both location and date (full date including month, day, and year) should be in bold and should look like this: CITY, ST. (Month Day, Year) -.
The first paragraph, often called “the lead,” should answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the press release. Its purpose is to give journalists a quick snapshot to decide whether the story is a good fit for their audiences.
Stick to basic facts here and avoid hyping or trying to sell products or services, but do mention the angle that makes your announcement newsworthy. Text should be single spaced in regular/normal (not bold or italicized) 12-point Arial or Times New Roman font.
Also note how the introduction includes links. It is a common practice to include hyperlinks to your business’s website or supporting material within your introduction paragraph, and it’s a good way to drive more traffic to your website.
The next few paragraphs in the body of your press release should serve to complete the story you introduced in the headline and first body paragraph. It should zero in on the newsworthy angle of the story and elaborate on it with details journalists can use to develop that angle.
Be sure to follow AP style guidelines so media outlets can use your text as is. Use short paragraphs, of approximately two to four sentences each, and feel free to include statistics in addition to graphics to back up your claims.
Finally, include details that make it super-easy for journalists to cover your story. If, for example, you are inviting a journalist to cover a company event, be sure to include details on how they can attend the event for free.
If your event is open to the public or specific groups, you should also include information about how they can attend the event, such as details about how to RSVP or register. That way, journalists have the details needed to invite their audiences beforehand and to attend themselves to write a follow-up story. This means double the coverage from one press release.
If you would rather be running your business than writing stories for the press, or you aren’t sure how best to convey your newsworthy event, you can outsource this task by hiring a press writing service, like eReleases. Their command of the press release format and ability to hone in on newsworthy angles makes it more likely your news will be picked up by media outlets. Check out our guide on press writing services for more information.
As part of any good news story, quotes allow journalists to round out their stories with a human perspective. For example, if you have a happy customer, you can add a testimonial quote. If you are introducing a new C-level employee, quotes from the new hire about how happy they are about their new role, and from another executive about what this change in the C-suite will mean for the business or its customers, offers more depth to the story.
Include a couple of quotes so journalists can choose their human perspective angle. Just be sure your quotes add value and don’t just repeat the same content you wrote in the body of your press release.
Interactive Elements (Optional)
Interactive elements are parts of your press release that journalists must complete an action to consume, such as clicking a link, playing a video, or downloading something. They allow journalists and readers to further explore your story while giving your business more ways of tracking their preferences and actions.
In addition to the interactive elements mentioned above, common interactive content includes hashtags, social media handles, interactive images, and downloadable infographics and portable document files (PDFs), such as an e-book, report, or case study. These content elements aid journalists in digging deeper as they cover your news.
For example, a branded hashtag tied to a product launch gives journalists a way to see firsthand what consumers think of it, which influencers are creating buzz around it, and be alerted when upgrades or complimentary products come out. Likewise, interactive images could walk journalists through a virtual product tour and allow you to track how far they went in the product tour, and which product features they lingered on due to heightened interest.
The final paragraph of your press release is called a boilerplate. It’s your company’s “About” section that appears at the very bottom of your press release. This is where you write about your company’s background, awards, amount of time in business, or anything else that might be of interest about your company.
You should also provide a link to your website and a media contact, which is the primary email or phone number a journalist should contact for more information. Your boilerplate should be less than 100 words. All companies mentioned in the press release should have their own boilerplate.
For more details on how to write a boilerplate, read how to write a boilerplate.
Finally, include an end notation at the bottom of your press release document. This tells the media they have accessed the whole document. While you should stick to one page (or about 500 words), if your release extends to two pages, the first page should end with “-more-” centered at the bottom of the page. Whether your press release is only one page long or has a second page, the final page should end with three centered pound signs, like this: ###.
Final Note & Call to Action (CTA)
Once you have ended the text of the press release, it’s a good idea to put one final note at the bottom that encourages someone who wants more information to reach out to you. A simple sentence like this is appropriate (formatted in 12-point Times New Roman or Arial font):
“If you would like more information about this topic, please call [name] at [phone number] or email [email address].”
Offering journalists multimedia resources in your press release allows them to more effectively craft a compelling story. Press releases with multimedia create more engagement across platforms like social media, blogs, and even print outlets. This is because journalists know that videos and other multimedia can increase engagement threefold.
While often included only when you pay $100 to $200 extra when using a press release distribution service, embedded videos and images are more engaging than simply an attached image or linked video. Embedded multimedia is viewable directly from published news wire stories, while attached multimedia must be accessed via hyperlink from within the article.
That said, many press release distribution service plans include free multimedia attachments, which still provide journalists with visuals they can use to add depth to their stories. Each service has guidelines for formatting the multimedia that is attached or will be embedded in your press release, including file size, type, and quality and resolution limitations.
Be sure to include your original files as well as reformatted files so your media contacts can use them if they believe it will add value to their story angle. When emailing your press release to the media, include links to original assets so they are available in their highest-quality form and not just a reduced-size copy (which is often of lower quality).
Press Release Format Best Practices
Writing and distributing a press release can either propel your company toward its goals or fall on deaf ears. To make your press release a worthwhile investment of your time and money, focus on adding quality details to your release, following the standard press release format and including multimedia content and social media links.
Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when formatting your press release:
- Choose the right document settings: For a professional press release, use one-inch margins around your entire press release document. Set your body paragraphs to single space and use an easy-to-read and standard business font like Arial or Times New Roman. Bold your header and dateline and italicize your subheading.
- Include multimedia attachments or embedded content: Adding visual or interactive content could result in more coverage, because journalists know that including this type of content in their stories generates more reader interest.
- Create an exploratory journey: Good reporting is not just rehashing other people’s stories, but instead, developing a unique one that can’t be found elsewhere. Because of this, not every journalist will want the same information. As such, as you craft your story, provide enough information so that journalists can find a unique angle that will appeal to their audiences.
- Include social media share links: About 55% of adults receive their daily news via social media. So including social media share links, similar to share links on a blog post, on the web page you’re posting your press release on can be a good way to land in social feeds and increase your exposure. Additionally, when your press release is covered in the media, share links to your press coverage on your social media accounts.
- Choose the right press release distribution service: While all releases follow the same general press release format, each distribution service has its own nuance for formatting, embedding multimedia, or including attachments. Check with your service of choice to confirm your formatting meets their requirements before submitting it.
For more insights like these, check out our more comprehensive guide on press release best practices.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do you send a press release?
After writing a press release, the next step is to distribute it to journalists and media outlets. If you have a list of press contacts with whom you have a relationship, you can send your press release directly to them.
However, if you’re like most small businesses looking for maximum press release exposure, your best bet is to use a press release distribution service, such as eReleases. They will send your press release to thousands of media outlets on your behalf. Follow the step-by-step instructions on how to send a press release.
What is an AP style press release?
An Associated Press (AP) style press release is written using Associated Press guidelines. The good news is that an AP style press release is the most common formatting, so if you’ve used a standard press release template, chances are your press is already in AP style. For more information, examples, and a free AP style press release template, check out our article on how to write an AP style press release.
What makes a good press release?
There are a number of variables that determine whether a press release is good, and therefore gets picked up. However, the two biggest factors are its newsworthiness and its distribution.
In short, your press release needs a compelling story that ropes readers in and needs to be distributed to not just a large audience, but a large audience of journalists and media contacts made up of those who are likely to be interested in your story. Get more insights into what makes a good press release.
All press releases follow the same basic press release format and structure. They have a compelling headline, a story with a newsworthy angle, multimedia, quotes, links, a call to action (CTA), a boilerplate, and contact information. Of course, even the most exciting release will fail to get media attention if the media doesn’t know it exists. So be sure your story gets the exposure it needs to land the most amount of media coverage using a press release distribution service like eReleases.