The Headline

  • Summarise the key information in ten words or less
  • Grab readers’ attention
  • Make main idea clear
  • Compel readers to read on

Example — Night says Goodnight:  Oxford Professor Fired Over Plagiarism Scandal

Opening Paragraph (Summary Lead)

  • Explain the five Ws and one H of the event:  all essential info is here
  • Include the hook:  the one element that gets readers interested

Note:   This paragraph is the most important of the release, as it presents the key details of the most newsworthy part of the information being released.

Body Paragraphs (Inverted Pyramid Design)

  • Organise ideas (expand on the 5W+H) from most important to least important (this organisation allows the editor to cut from the end of the release without losing the most critical information)
  • Tells more about the subject
  • Generates more interest in subject
  • Should answer potential questions that might be asked by readers
  • Include quotations from the newsmakers
  • Should contain information that appears to present a balanced view of the subject (inevitably

these issues are neatly addressed with a positive spin)

Closing Paragraph

  • Repeats the most critical information
  • Generally this is quite short
  • Ends on an interesting, engaging note
  • Provides contact information/directs readers to sources where more information may be obtained

Note:  A press release presents facts only, neither opinions nor speculations.  You are not the news reporter:  you are a press agent who is providing the facts of the story to the news reporters so that they can do their job with accuracy.

While you may not put any personal commentary into a release, remember that a press release is still an inherently biased variety of informational text because it is often written by someone with a vested interest (though press releases from news wire services are less biased), since the primary purpose of most press releases is (inevitably) selling something.

Remember that tone is vital to creating a well-crafted press release, so there should be a consistent “voice” throughout that reinforces the desired idea, as writers generally want readers to see things their way.

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