Demystifying the Press Release Format (+ Free Template)
No matter the content included in your press release, it should follow the standard press release format to get the attention of the media. To make writing yours easier, download our preformatted press release template below with sections for your logo, release date, contact info, headline, lead and body paragraphs, boilerplate, and a link to your website and multimedia.
Free Press Release Template
Your great story has a better chance of landing media coverage when you use this journalist-expected format. To ensure you get the formatting right, download our free template for a press release before writing your announcement. Then, customize it with your news as you read through each section described below.
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💡 Quick Tip:
When you’re ready to distribute your press release, use our #1 recommended press release distribution service for small businesses: EIN Presswire, starting under $100.
If you’re not an expert, writing a press release is no easy feat. For this reason, many businesses leave both the writing and distribution up to the experts at eReleases, where you can get everything in one stop.
Using our free press release template, include each of the required elements below for learning how to format a press release:
1. Press Release Format Document Settings
For a formal press release format, use one-inch margins around the entire document (e.g., 1-inch top, bottom, left, and right margins). Set your body paragraphs to single space and use an easy-to-read standard business font like Arial or Times New Roman.
Brand awareness is often a top (if not the primary) purpose for issuing different types of press releases. To boost the brand awareness impact of your press release, your company logo should be prominently displayed at the top of your press release, centered in the heading.
When sending your press release via email, be sure to attach a web-friendly 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. Alternatively, you can include a link to all of the multimedia assets featured in your story at the end of your press release, following the boilerplate.
3. Release Date or Dateline
The press release date indicates when you want the release to be published and the information in your news 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 under the logo on the left side 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. Note that when published, the release date will match the date you include in the lead paragraph.
4. Contact Information
Put your contact information underneath the logo on the right-hand side of the press release. This includes the ways a journalist can contact the person within your company who can answer questions about this press release.
Include the individual’s name, phone number, and email address so that 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 info on your release should appear:
Contact: John Smith
Phone: (123) 456-7890
5. Headline & Subheading
The standard press release format includes a compelling headline and (an optional) subheadline. These should be placed below the logo, contact information, and release date of your header.
The main headline should be typed in 14-point size, bold, and centered, contain no more than 65 to 80 characters, and use language that is clear and easy to understand. This is the most eye-catching part of your press release and should compel people to read the rest of your announcement. It should reflect the most newsworthy angle of your release―the main reason your target audience would care about your news.
The subheadline goes below the headline and should be in 13-point, italicized font. It can be slightly longer than the main headline (up to 120 characters) and should call out an important aspect that makes the story interesting. When you distribute your release to journalists who share your target audience, well-written headlines make them more likely to publish your story because it’s clear why their audience would care.
Both your heading and subheading need to be written in a way that gets the attention of journalists and your audience, which isn’t always easy. For inspiration, check out our list of more than a dozen press release examples and why they work.
6. Location & Date
The location and date of your lead paragraph are separated 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 the location should be in all caps, formatted similarly to this: CITY, ST. (Month Day, Year) -.
7. Lead Paragraph
The next step in a formal press release format is the introduction to your announcement. This first paragraph, 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 the most important facts here and reference the angle that makes your announcement newsworthy. Also, avoid hype, grandiose or unprovable claims, and promotional language as these are common press release mistakes that can send your story into the trash bin. The font for this section and the remaining paragraphs should be single-spaced in 12-point Arial or Times New Roman font.
The lead paragraph might be the only part of your press release read by some audience members and journalists. To ensure they have all the resources and information needed to take action (e.g., cover your story, attend your event, check out your product launch, and so on), include hyperlinks in the lead to your website or supporting materials.
8. Body Paragraphs
The next two to three paragraphs in the body of your press release should 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 the details journalists can use to develop that angle.
Be sure to follow AP style press release formatting and guidelines so media outlets can use your text as is. Use short paragraphs, of approximately two to four sentences each. Also, feel free to include statistics in addition to graphics to back up your claims and make your announcement more engaging.
Finally, add details that make it super-easy for journalists to cover your story. For example, if you want journalists to cover a company event or publicity stunt, tell them how to RSVP or get free tickets to attend.
If your event is open to the public or specific groups, include the information they need, such as how to RSVP, buy tickets, and when and where to show up. That way, journalists have the details needed to invite their audiences beforehand and to attend themselves to write a follow-up story. This could even mean double the coverage (and brand exposure) from one press release.
For more guidance when writing your press release, check out our full list of press release best practices.
Including quotes rounds out your announcement with a human perspective. Plus, it can clearly explain the angle that makes your press release worthy of additional coverage.
For example, if you have a happy customer, you can add a testimonial quote. If you’re using a new hire press release to introduce a new C-level employee, quotes from the key persons offer more depth to the story. These could be coming from the new hire expressing their excitement about the new role and from another executive on what the new hire will bring to the business or its customers.
Include a couple of quotes so journalists can choose the human perspective angle they prefer. Also, be sure your quotes add value and don’t just repeat the same content in the body of your press release. As far as press release formatting goes for quotes, use double quotation marks to clearly identify that it’s a quotation as well as the name and title of the person being quoted.
The examples shown in the section above for the Lead Paragraph include body paragraphs and quotes:
10. Interactive Elements
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 elements mentioned above, common interactive content includes hashtags, social media handles, interactive images, downloadable infographics, and portable document files (PDFs) like e-books, reports, and case studies. These content elements aid journalists in digging deeper as they cover your news.
For example, a branded hashtag tied to your product launch allows journalists to research the story. By searching for the hashtag, they can see firsthand what consumers think of it, which influencers are creating buzz around it, and even get alerts when upgrades or complimentary products come out.
Likewise, interactive images can walk both journalists and readers through a virtual product tour, increasing interest in the product and your brand. This also allows you to track how far viewers go in the product tour, which product features they lingered on, and any actions taken afterward, such as visiting your website, online store, or signing up for a demo or sales pitch.
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 an excellent way to land in social feeds and increase your exposure.
The final section in the press release format is called the boilerplate. It’s your company’s “About” section that appears at the very bottom of your press release. This is where you showcase your company’s background, awards, amount of time in business, and other information that might generate interest in your company.
Below the boilerplate paragraph, it’s common to include a call to action, such as a link to a website or landing page. Learn how to write a press release boilerplate in five steps and see what else you might want to include.
The boilerplate should conclude with a link to your website and a media-specific contact (the primary email or phone number a journalist should contact for more information). Your boilerplate should be less than 100 words. In the case of a joint or partnership press release, all companies mentioned in the press release should have a boilerplate in this section.
12. End Notation
Finally, the press release format concludes with an end notation of three centered pound signs, e.g., ###. 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.
Press releases with multimedia create more engagement across platforms like social media, blogs, and even print outlets. Providing multimedia resources allows journalists to provide additional coverage of your announcement more easily. Plus, the benefits of increased engagement make it more likely they will do so.
You can include multimedia in a few ways, including embedded media elements and multimedia linked to the article or accessible via a linked landing page. Embedded multimedia viewable directly from published news wire stories are more engaging vs attached multimedia that must be accessed via hyperlink.
Most press release distribution services allow for the inclusion of one or more embedded images, and some are also inclusive of video embeds. Each service has guidelines for formatting the multimedia, including file size, type, quality, and resolution limitations.
However, it’s also good to have an online media kit or landing page journalists can visit to get original copies of multimedia included in your story. 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 (often of lower quality).
For more tips on how to write an announcement that will get picked up by the media, read our step-by-step instructions for how to write a press release. If you are feeling daunted by the prospect of applying the right press release format and writing a compelling story, leave it to the experts at eReleases. They’ll write and distribute your news to the widest U.S. network of journalists and media outlets and target distribution to your desired audience as well.
Press Release Formats by Type
All releases follow the same basic press release format, but may vary slightly depending on the purpose and type of press release, the media included (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 five common types of media announcements with guidance on what content to include and the specific press release format to follow:
- New hire press release
- Book press release
- Grand opening press release
- Event press release
- Crisis press release
If none of these fit the bill, use the standard press release format featured in the template above, or an AP style press release template to write your announcement. Then, when you’re ready, head over to a service like EIN Presswire for affordable distribution starting under $100 or to eReleases, where you can get the most reach among U.S. media.
Working on a slim budget? Get the most affordable press release writing and distribution with Fiverr freelancers in all-in-one packages from around $40 and up.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do you send a press release?
You can send your release directly to journalists and media outlets. But for maximum press release exposure, use a press release service like EIN Presswire or eReleases. They will send your press release to thousands of media outlets and journalists who subscribe to discover stories they want to cover. 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 based on AP guidelines. AP style is the most common formatting, so if you’ve used our free template press release to write your story, chances are it’s already in AP style.
What makes a good press release?
A number of variables determine whether a press release is good, including the format of a press release. However, the two biggest factors are its newsworthiness and its distribution. The angle of your story needs to engage your target audience, and distribution needs to ensure your story reaches those most likely to be interested in your story. Get more insights into what makes a good press release.
Following the basic press release format and structure journalists expect makes it more likely for them to read and cover your story. However, even the most exciting release will fail to get media attention if the media doesn’t know it exists. Make sure your story gets the exposure it needs to land the most media coverage using a press release distribution service like eReleases.
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