Press releases are one of a marketer’s most important tools. With roughly a half-hour of work, you can get exposure to thousands of potential customers. Despite their power, they are extremely simple to write. After getting a couple under your belt, you can almost do them in your sleep.

Basic principles of a press release

Press releases should always be sent on company letterhead. If you don’t have letterhead, place your logo at the top of the page, centered. If you have neither letterhead nor a logo, do you really need to send a press release out?

Press releases are written in AP style. The highest goal you can attain is getting your release printed verbatim in a newspaper; writing it in AP style makes this much more likely. If you’re not familiar with AP style, learn it.

Press releases should be short. They should be roughly 300–600 words, 800 at an absolute maximum. They should never exceed one page.

Paragraphs should be short; three sentences is a good length.

Anatomy of a press release

A press release can be broken down into a handful of elements.

  1. Contact information
  2. Headline
  3. Sub-headline
  4. Dateline
  5. Lead
  6. Supporting paragraph
  7. Quote
  8. More supporting paragraphs
  9. Boilerplate

Contact information

In the upper right corner of the page, format your contact information as follows:

Phone number
Mobile number
E-mail address
Web Address

Also, directly across from the contact information, write For Immediate Release.


The headline can be the hardest part; professionals get paid the big bucks to write a compelling headline. Write it after you write the body of your release, make sure you get the point of the release across and use keywords — your release will be published on the web, after all.

Headlines are written in title case: that is to say, all the words except articles and conjunctions are capitalized.

Your Headline Should Look Like This


The subhead is optional; if you decide to write one, think of it as a slightly longer headline. Don’t repeat information; use this space to expand upon your headline. It should be noted that a subhead is a complete thought — it doesn’t depend on the headline.


The dateline says when and where the press release was written.

Mytown, MS, July 8 —

Some large cities do not require a state or country. Consult your AP style guide.


The lead sentence frontloads the information in the release. Often unwieldy, it contains all the most important information in the whole document: who’s doing it, what they’re doing, where they’re doing it, etc. In the same paragraph, spend a couple sentences expanding on the lead.

Supporting paragraph

Here you have a little more room to expand on the lead. Explain what the release is about in crisp, well-written sentences.


As simple as it may seem, the quote is the difference between your release gaining traction and languishing in the slush pile. The human element is key, and many reporters will ignore a release without it.

Ideally, you’ll have a quote from someone outside your organization talking about how great whatever it is you’re doing is. At the very least, have a quote from someone within the organization talking about how happy he is that you finally have the opportunity to do it.

More supporting paragraphs

Expand and explain; tell a story. If the reader has gotten this far, they’ve already bought in to some extent. Write one or two more paragraphs to give some background on the project.


This paragraph tells the reader who you are and what you do. It remains the same in every release. As much as possible, it should be taken from your other media (website, brochures, etc.) to maintain a consistent image.

End the release with three centered hashes (###).

Final words

Make sure your release is grammatically perfect. Spelling mistakes, sentence fragments, and other errors will kill your chances of getting an article written from your release.

Your release should be written on an eighth-grade level. This is neither the time nor the place for linguistic flourishes; say what you’ve got to say and get out.

Keep a template handy with your contact information, dateline, and boilerplate. Press releases follow a simple formula so there’s no reason to start from scratch every time. Luckily for you, I’ve provided a Press release template that you can use. Just change the information and keep it handy.

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