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How to format a news release?
November 30, 2011 6:26 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for an online resource for the correct formatting and layout of a news release. I have found several templates, but there is enough difference between them that I'm a bit confused. I have the essential structure and content down, but what I am looking for is what would be considered to "standard" correct formatting and layout. Can anyone direct me to a good resource?
posted by parkerama to Work & Money (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Standard Format

Pick a few big name firms, look at their media section and download a few releases. They have the money to hire people who know how to do it right. You'll find most are exactly like the link above.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 6:50 PM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


As someone that looks a lot of new releases I can honestly tell you that there is no standard when it comes to formatting and layout.

A lot of publishers are fond of big pull quotes. Small outfits love centering. Trade groups make them look like newsletters. Some look like business placards.

If your goal it to disseminate information I can also tell you these aren't that effective. Most don't even get distributed to the intended person. The mailroom people are pretty good at filtering out the dross.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:08 PM on November 30, 2011


Thanks, guys!
posted by parkerama at 7:38 PM on November 30, 2011


If you're sending it to bloggers, make sure there's a photo or image they can download and use, not just verbiage.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:59 PM on November 30, 2011


I do some work for a PR agency and I can tell you each one of our clients has completely different standards for what they want. That Standard Format link above is a good generic guide. I'd also look at what companies in your particular field do and just copy them, since it's what press will be used to seeing. I'd include links to any press materials or assets you have or a general "press information" area if you have one of those.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:20 PM on November 30, 2011


As a (web) publisher, my most important concern is that you include in a very obvious place contact names (two if possible) with telephone numbers and email addresses. Also it is very very handy for me to have a URL that links directly to an information page for the specific project or event as well as a link that takes me to downloadable art.

As far as the rest goes, it's nice to write in news story form, with a good clear lede, full details of where and when and a few quotes that I can pull out and insert into my copy.

Please also be sure to make embargo information absolutely clear, e.g., indicate "for immediate release" unless you have a specific embargo date and time. In general, embargoed material is appropriate only for rather complicated stories, e.g., the creation of a completely new position at an organization that will be filled with a person with a full backstory and a whole agenda of plans.

Assuming the release is going out via email, please consider sending it as plain text or formatted text and not as an attachment. If you must send an attachment, do it in Word. PDFs are useless and a huge annoyance.
posted by La Cieca at 8:43 PM on November 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you're sending it to bloggers, make sure there's a photo or image they can download and use, not just verbiage.
-- Ideefixe

Print people are not averse to photos, etc.

If you have relevant photos or other media, include it as long as you don't go overboard.
posted by maurreen at 11:09 PM on November 30, 2011


It depends on what your goal is. A news release about something larger, like an announcement that the local hospital is opening a new wing, would be great with pull quotes and lots of lenghty details in a formal format.

However: one of the things I do at a chain of local newspapers is maintain the calendar of upcoming events. I absolutely HATE pull quotes, centering, and the crazy people who think ninety-seven fonts and colors is clever, because I have to spend time REMOVING every single bit of that. And while a lenghty press release about that mythical hospital wing is fine, for the calendar a paragraph or two (with the event's street address, date and time, ticket info, and contact info like a website or email or phone number) is all I need.

Photographs --- high resolution only, please! --- would be welcome for either, the lenghty press release or the short calendar entry. (Make sure to include the names of the people in those photos, too.)
posted by easily confused at 4:31 AM on December 1, 2011


oh, and ditto La Cieca about plain text/formatted text preferred to an attachment, although my outfit's system does well with pdfs. Just please: NO docx!
posted by easily confused at 4:36 AM on December 1, 2011


That one that Gerard linked to is mostly correct, but the contact information should be below the ###, unless you actually want the general public to be contacting you. The ### indicates the end of the text of the release.

That said, in this day and age of copy-paste, a distracted (or idiotic) reporter will copy everything including what is below the ###. This happened to me once, and random people were calling my cell phone all weekend. It was rather annoying. I recommend putting your contact information at the top, under "Immediate Release"
posted by radioamy at 7:35 AM on December 1, 2011


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