How to format a press release
We are often asked how to correctly format a press release. Some common questions range from word documents to including images.
In an effort to tackle the above, and similar queries, we have created this short guide, along with a press release template to help get you started.
The process of submitting a press release is made simple with Pressat. Our dashboard includes a step-by-step process, so no formatting of any kind is required on your part. You simply follow the instructions, adding the relevant information where requested. This is automatically formatted before distribution.
For customers who wish to send the press release to additional media contacts, or via an alternative service, the tips below are of relevance.
There is no official way to format a press release, nor is there an official industry standard on the layout. Nevertheless, there are some de facto concepts that must be applied to every press release to guarantee its concise, informative nature.
All press releases start with a headline. This should be shortened to approximately 60 to 70 characters. The headline is the first thing a journalist sees when reading an email or fax, so it must grab their attention and make them want to read further.
The summary of the press release, or the "pitch" (as we like to call it), is a concise reflection of your story and “take away” points. It must act as a primer that introduces your story, whilst still making sense as a stand-alone blurb.
Traditional PR guides recommend formatting a release by splitting it up into three sections—introduction, story, and conclusion.
We find that bulking the key points can restrict and make the release appear unnatural. Instead, modern releases (in particular social media news releases, SMNR) keep content tidy and relevant through the essential abiding of the five W’s - Who? What? When? Where? Why?
This approach improves the flow of a story and its structure, whilst ensuring the inclusion of key information.
The press release body text should sit between 500-700 words. Too much content, or irrelevant fluff may cause your readers to lose interest. If you have statistics and other additional information, add this to the editor’s notes at the base of the release.
A comment from a spokesperson connects the reader with the company. As a rule, quotes should be included separately—unless they flow through the main body of the release. They should be from prominent official spokespersons from within the company, for example, co-owners, directors, or managers. Most journalists avoid quotes that heavily promote a company, as this illustrates a bias nature. Make sure that quotes are relevant, valuable, and compliment the release.
This is one of the most important parts of your press release. The contact section must include your full name, a telephone number (if you have one), your website details, and your email address. In many cases, it is also useful to add a postal address, although this is not always required.
If you do not include contact information, a journalist cannot verify your story, or contact you for additional information. Non-existent, or incomplete, contact information can greatly reduce your chances of media coverage.
If the journalist you wish to contact is unaware of your brand, it is crucial that you introduce yourself. Provide a basic background of your position and brand, so that the journalist can get a feel for whom they are dealing with, and what the story entails. Again this should be brief and to the point.
The notes to editor is the final section of your release where supplementary information or statistics can be placed. You may also include any release specific instructions here.
If you looking for more detailed information on how to write a press release our other guide goes into more depth.