How to Format a Press Release
This document shows you how to do it right, not just for ANN but for any media outlet in North America, these guidelines are standards that everyone is expected to adhere to. Most large media are much less forgiving about this stuff than we are.
What is it?
Is it a Press Release, a Media Advisory, or a simple mailing? A press release is something that you want media outlets to reprint verbatim on their site, these have the best chance of being re-printed because they are the least work for the media, provided they are properly formatted. A Media Advisory is a document telling a media outlet about something you think they might want to know about. It is then up to the media to decide how to proceed, write an article, contact you for details, etc... A mailing is something you are sending directly to the public, and may also send to the media, these can be formatted however you want, but are likely to be ignored by the press. In general you should send a press release to the press at the same time that you send your mailing out to the public.
When sending out any of these by e-mail, preface the subject with its label, ie: Subject: PRESS RELEASE: Company Announces Something Big.
Specific Writing Guidelines for Press Releases
These are rules, if your press release isn't formatted this way most big media will throw it out.
Release time: The first line of your press release should state "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE" or "FOR RELEASE ON [insert date]." This should be all in capital letters.
Contact Info: The contact information that you wish to make available to the public. This can be aligned to the right of the page. Alternatively, you can skip this, and include contact information at the bottom of the press release.
Headline: This is the title of your press release, it can be centered. There can be a second, subheading with a few more details.
Dateline: City (in capitals) and Date that the press release is issued. ie: MONTREAL, QUEBEC - May 18, 2004. Optionally the date may be placed on the line under the Release Time. If the date here is after the time the Press Release is sent out, but the press release says "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE" it will be published immediately.
Press Release text: Whatever you want it to be, but standard writing guidelines apply.
About Company: Actually a part of the Press Release Text, the last paragraph or two of the text should include information about the company(ies) releasing the press release.
Recap: Specific details, product specs, etc should be listed in the bottom left corner of the press release. For example a press release announcing a DVD release would have the DVD Specs here, and event would have the time, location, admission fee, etc...
Footer: Skip two lines after the recap or press release text and put "###" or "-30-" or "ENDS". This signifies that this is the end of the information that should be made available to the public. The footer is often centered, but does not need to be.
Remember, everything, including contact info, after the release time and before the footer will be made public.
The only thing after the footer should be contact information for the press. Include as much contact info as possible here, it's your loss if they can't contact you for details by press time. Alternatively, you can include contact information before the release time, but its traditional place is after the footer.
Many companies like to ship out formatted press releases in various formats (Adobe pdf, html email and word document). This is all fine, but always include a simple version with limited formatting in the body of the e-mail. In the best case scenario, your press release should in the body of the e-mail and attached as a word document; as various media have different preferences in regards to how they want to receive the press release (most outlets do not like PDFs, never make PDF the only copy of your press release.
It's also recommended to attach medium resolution copies of every image used in the press release as image attachments to the e-mail (in addition to embedding them in the e-mail and/or word doc). It's easier for journalists to extract the images this way.
Finally, there is no harm in attaching links to more material. Some journalists may use it. But make sure that the minimum required material is always in your e-mail. Journalists have limited time and you want to make everything as accessible as possible for them.
Notes on Embargoes: Just because you state that something is for release on a specific date doesn't mean a news outlet is required to honor that date. Never send out an embargoed press release without first checking the publication's embargo policy. Read our policy on this here.
An Example Press Release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
ANIME NEWS NETWORK TEACHES PEOPLE HOW TO WRITE PRESS RELEASES
Document Created to Help Anime and Manga Publicists
MONTREAL, PQ - May 18, 2004 - Anime News Network is pleased to announce the creation of a document designed to help amateur and professional publicists get their press releases properly reprinted, both with Anime News Network and other major media outlets.
The document was created in particular response to the large number of e-mails that Anime News Network receives from the non-professional side of the anime community, anime events, small publishers and the like. However the document also contains guidelines for formatting that should be read by professional publicists that are familiar with how to present a press release, but not with the technical limitations of various advanced formats.
Anime News Network hopes that this document will help the anime community and industry gain wider exposure with mainstream media.
ABOUT ANIME NEWS NETWORK: With over 8 million impressions a month and forty thousand visits a day, Anime News Network (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com) is the Internet's leading source of English language anime and manga news. ANN provides North American readers with up to date news, views and reviews regarding the North American and Japanese anime industries.
Anime News Network Press Release Guidelines
Posted: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 at 18:30 Eastern Standard Time
Cost to Read: Free
Document Size: 7KB
For further information contact:
Anime News Network
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history