Picture is illustrative. Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

A press release is a short, written communication issued by an organisation to the media. It is used by organisations when they have a newsworthy announcement , a new campaign, they want to update on a situation (for example, in crisis communications) or a response to a situation.


Why issue a press release 

A press release should only be used if you have something newsworthy to say. If you bombard media contacts with uninteresting and irrelevant press releases, then they will come to disregard them and – when you do have something interesting and important to say – it will not necessarily be noticed.


Therefore, wait until you have something that should make the news before sending out a press release. Other communications that you find to be important can be put out using other channels: your newsletter, your social media channels, your website etc.


What makes your news “newsworthy”?

Consider the following elements, before issuing a press release. If your news does not contain at least two/three of these elements, it will not be of interest to the media and, therefore, a press release is not the right tool for publishing your news.

  • Timeliness: the new in news. There is no point in publishing a press release announcing something that happened a month ago. This is old news and not likely to be picked up by the media. Issue your press release to coincide with an event/announcement. 
  • Proximity: whilst we may not agree, it is more often the case that people are interested in news that affects them, that is local to them and impacts their lives.
  • Impact / consequence: does your news pass the “so what” test? Is it going to have an impact on the lives of the readers/viewers of the media that you are sending it to?
  • Novelty: is there something unusual or rare in your story?
  • Conflict: the news often thrives on the negative; how often have you complained that the news is always so full of bad news? And conflict does make up part of that bad news – from political infighting to war. Conflict can also be positive, it can be about presenting a different point of view. E.g constructively, but clearly criticising local government because of budget cuts in youth work.
  • Human interest: all good news stories have a strong human element; in order to find something interesting, usually, we need to know what it means to real people. 
  • Prominence: how high profile is your news? News about someone or something that is well known, or indeed featuring a celebrity or famous person, is more likely to get media coverage.



  • Find a good short title – think of a newspaper article headline. They are snappy, to the point and catch the reader’s eye. Try to replicate this in your press releases.
  • In the first paragraph aim to cover the key “Ws”: Who? What? When? Why? This enables the journalist to read the first paragraph and gain a good idea of what the story is. You should aim to capture their attention in this introductory paragraph or they will not read on.
  • You can then expand a little in the following paragraphs with more detail on your news. But, a press release is not the place for loads of details about your organisation. You can include a “notes to editor” at the end of the press release where you may also add a “boiler plate” (a short, standard “about us” paragraph).
  • It is often a good idea to include a quote from a key person in your organisation, this allows the journalist to lift this directly into their article, adding a human angle and making it easier for them. It’s your chance to be more informal and colloquial in the press release, the general tone of which is formal, neutral and written in the third person. 
  • Remember to include other elements that make it newsworthy, such as the human interest, the novelty or the impact, for example. These can be backed up with evidence or statistics.
  • Include media contacts at the end of the press release, so that journalists can easily get in touch with the most suitable person to get more information or to arrange an interview. 
  • Consider an “embargo” – this means you issue a press release in advance and indicate that it is “embargoed” until a certain date and time. This allows the media time to get together everything they need for the story and you to synchronise the announcement. The press release ought to be very newsworthy to warrant an embargo.
  • Don’t forget to include an attention-grabbing subject line for your email, or you risk it being lost in journalists’ inboxes.


Photo of Sarah Farndale
Sarah Farndale

Sarah is a communications specialist with 15 years' experience working in-house for a wide range of organisations and institutions, from international NGOs to EU associations and institutions. More recently, she has been advising clients as a freelance communications consultant - based in Brussels - working with organisations on enhancing their communications.