A press release should be used to alert the media of breaking news from a press briefing, the publication of a new report, or any newsworthy event that you care to share with the media and public. Press releases can be used to summarize stories from journal publications or as background information for other events. The idea is to provide the media with a story and enough information to enable the reporter to write their own story based on your release.
- To The Point
Write the conclusion first. This will bring out the point of your release quickly. If you save the actual story-worthy point for the end, the reporter may never read it.
- Write a Grabber
Your first sentence or two should catch the reader’s attention. Grab the reader’s attention while simultaneously stating a newsworthy point.
- The Facts
Include necessary facts that will give the reporter enough to go on to write their own story.
At the conclusion of the release you can provide information on your organization’s overall mission statement. For example, Advocates’ says “Advocates for Youth is an international, nonprofit organization that creates programs and advocates for policies that help young people make safe, responsible decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.”
- Continued on Next Page
If your release is more than one page, indicate at the end of a page that the release continues to another page. This will ensure the reporter has the entire document.
- Indicate Second Page
Use a ‘slug’ on the second or additional pages of a release such as “youth/page 2” to help keep the release together.
- Contact Info
Write the release on your organization’s letterhead and provide visible contact info that is not buried somewhere in the text. This will make it easy for the reporter to contact you.
- The Right Reporter
Send your release to reporters who are likely to cover your story. Consider what beat would be interested in your story, e.g. health, education, youth, or the political correspondent.
- The Right Outlet
Consider sending your release to various outlets, including but not limited to radio, television, newspapers, newsletters, magazines, etc.
- Learn from Example
Read press releases from Advocates for Youth and other organizations online. Study how other groups design their releases. Press releases are often archived and available on an organization's Web site.
Sample Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 6, 2008
United States Bans Contraception for Africa
Young Women’s Lives in Jeopardy
WASHINGTON, D.C. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has issued instructions to force several African nations to discontinue U.S.-funded contraceptives to Marie Stopes International (MSI), one of the world’s leading family planning organizations.
The decision by USAID would limit the contraceptive commodity distribution choices of several sovereign African governments that receive U.S.-funded contraceptives. Given that Marie Stopes International is a major distributor for contraceptive commodities in many African nations, this decision will leave a significant gap in family planning services for poor women, most notably in Ghana, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
“This harmful decision continues the long history of hostility and incompetence by the Bush Administration when it comes to international family planning,” said James Wagoner, President of Advocates for Youth. “First, the Administration reinstates the global gag rule, cuts funding for UNFPA and other international family planning, and now, seeks to play politics with the lives of young women by banning access to important contraceptive commodities.”
Family planning services play a major role in protecting the lives of young women throughout the world.
“The need for young women to have access to family planning services and commodities is undeniable,” added Wagoner. “Marie Stopes International plays a valuable role in helping women plan their families. This decision by the Bush Administration demonstrates once again that the health and lives of young women come second to ideological and political interests.”
- Today, the leading cause of death among young women aged 15-19 is related to pregnancy and childbirth;
- Over, 200 million women worldwide, have no access to contraception and,
- In the developing world, lack of access to family planning results in 76 million unintended pregnancies each year.
Advocates for Youth is a national, nonprofit organization that creates programs and supports policies that help young people make safe, responsible decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.