Press releases are a vital part of any company’s public relations toolkit. They’re one of the major tools to let the media know about newsworthy occurrences they should cover.
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At eReleases our business revolves around the creation and distribution of press releases, and we’re delighted to share a free press release template in Microsoft Word and Google Doc format to help you write your own amazing press release.
Download Your Free Press Release Template in Microsoft Word Format Here (no email or signup required)
Access Your Free Press Release Template in Google Docs Format Here (no email or signup required)
Formatting a press release has two elements. First, the key elements that go into your press release as you write it; second, how you format your press release on the printed page. We’ll start first with the key elements of your press release.
Successful press releases almost always follow the same structure.
The dateline or release date indicates when you want this information to be available to the world. The dateline or release date appears at the top left of your press release and should be bolded in all caps.
In many cases, you want it to be available to the public immediately. In that case, your dateline would read “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”.
If you want the media to hold your press release and any story they write about it until a certain date, you would give them an embargo date and time (including time zone.) Embargoes are used to give reporters adequate time to write their own stories prior to the news going public. In that case, your dateline would read “EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL [DATE, TIME, TIME ZONE]”, for example, EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL JANUARY 1, 2023 AT 6:00am EDT. Note that if you use an embargo date, the embargo date should be the date that appears in the dateline section of your press release.
Your press release should have a compelling headline and optionally, a subheading that further explains the headline.
Your headline should be written in title case, meaning that the first letter of every word, other than modifiers, should be capitalized.
The purpose of your headline and subheading is to get the attention of the reader, so they will read the rest of the press release.
There is an art to writing a great headline, and it is worth investing time and thought in its creation. We have a primer on how to write a great headline here, including examples of headlines people have used and how they could be rewritten to go from OK to great.
The press release dateline goes below the headline, and states the location where the news originates, and the date. And, if you have used a press release distribution service, they will automatically add their source information to the end of the dateline, (example: eReleases) so you don’t need to worry about that.
The dateline is followed by a space, then –, then another space, then the copy of your press release begins.
So a typical dateline may read:
MILWAUKEE, WI, Jan. 1, 2023, eReleases — Widgets, Inc. today announced….
The lead paragraph introduces your press release. It answers the key journalistic questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how.
Writing a good lead paragraph is vital to the success of your press release because it tells the journalist in one short paragraph, the essence of what they need to know to make a decision as to whether this press release 1. Is newsworthy, 2. Is on their “beat,” the specialty area they report on, 3. Relevant to their audience.
It’s so important that we’ve created a guide to writing the lead paragraph. It’s important to read, because it walks you, step-by-step through the process of writing it, plus it includes plenty of examples of lead paragraphs we have received, and how to improve them to make them more powerful and appealing.
The body paragraphs continue and complete the story you started in the lead paragraph. Their main purpose is to show the news value of this story, and to convince the reporter this is an important story for them to cover.
These should consist of short paragraphs, each just one to two sentences long, and follow the AP style guide for press releases.
Oftentimes, good press release writers will include statistics and details that give the journalist key information they need to write their own version of the story.
For example, if your press release is announcing a grand opening ceremony, you will want to include all the information the journalist needs to know to RSVP and attend. If it’s covering the opening of a new manufacturing facility, you will want to tell how many jobs will be added, etc.
Your press release body should be written in an inverted pyramid format – with the most important information at the top, becoming less important as you go down. This makes it easy for an editor to cut it off to fit into their available space.
You can find more training on how to format your body paragraphs here, including examples of how they can be improved to make your press release more successful.
Effective press releases frequently include a couple of quotes from a company leader or representative. These go beyond the facts and statistics to add a human touch to your press release.
For example, you may want to add a quote from your CEO stating support for the community, like:
“We’re excited to build another manufacturing plant here in Milwaukee,” company CEO John Doe stated. “This continues our more than two decades of commitment to this great city and the amazing workforce that has built our company.”
Press release writers often add two quotes in their news releases, each reflecting a different angle, to provide reporters with different options to build their stories.
And, lest you think we don’t believe quotes are as important as everything else in formatting your press release, here’s our step-by-step guide to quotes in press releases, including, of course, examples of quotes that do and don’t work, and why that’s true.
This is where you tell the reader what to do and how to do it.
For example, if the press release is promoting the grand opening of a new dog shelter for the Humane Society, the call-to-action could invite the public to visit to meet and adopt a pet.
This section oftentimes contains a URL they can visit, a phone number, email address, or mailing address to take the next step.
You can find step-by-step instructions (and examples) on writing a call-to-action here.
The boilerplate section of your press release provides information about your company and gives you a chance to add some positioning information.
It’s called boilerplate copy because it’s oftentimes cut and pasted into every press release the company creates.
For example, here’s the boilerplate copy Starbucks often uses:
Since 1971, Starbucks Coffee Company has been committed to ethically sourcing and roasting the highest quality arabica coffee in the world. Today, with stores around the globe, the company is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world. Through our unwavering commitment to excellence and our guiding principles, we bring the unique Starbucks Experience to life for every customer through every cup. To share in the experience, please visit us in our stores or online at starbucks.com.
You can find step-by-step instructions on creating your own boilerplate copy here.
Many people have the mistaken idea that the ideal situation is for the press to run their press releases as written. But actually, you’re trying to get something much better – a whole article to be written about your story by the press.
So, it’s important that you include contact information for someone they can reach to get more information about the newsworthy item your press release is promoting and your company.
Ideally, you should include the following:
You can find more information on writing your contact information here.
At the end of your press release, add a double space then three pound signs, centered on the page, like this:
That’s journalism speak for “the end.”
I don’t think I need to give you a link for more information on that one, do you?
One of the advantages of using a press release distribution service is that you can include attachment files with your release.
Here are some ideas of attachments you could include:
These files should be small (each site has its own filesize limitations) so they’re easy to download. Pictures should be 300 dpi so they can be published in print media.
You can also offer a link to your media kit where they can get more images and information about your company.
In addition to electronically distributing your press releases, you may also want to have a print version. These can be handed out to journalists at the event, included in a printed press kit, etc.
Printed press releases should follow all the rules above, plus be formatted with the following:
Once your press release is written and formatted, the next, and arguably the most important, step is to get it into the hands of the right people so it can be picked up by the media.
Many companies have a list of reporters and media people they have worked with in the past. If you do, you should definitely send your press release to them.
But are they the only people who should cover your story?
At eReleases, our specialty is distributing your press releases to the right people to get you the publicity you desire.
When you use eReleases to distribute your press releases, you get the following:
Now you’ve gotten our free press release template, learned how to format your press release, and how to get it distributed, I bet you’d like to see some examples. I hear you. How about if I give you more than 80 of them from a range of different industries?
My guess is you’ll find a couple from this list you can model for your own press release.
Beauty, Fashion & Cosmetics
Books & Authors
Consumer Electronics: Mobile Devices
Fitness & Supplemental Health
Home & Garden
Hotel & Travel
Healthcare & Medical Products
Web 2.0/Social Networking
And, just because I know you’ll appreciate them, here are another 15+ great press release examples for situations you may encounter.
Finally, here are some tips and training to help you write an amazing press release: