11 March 2014 Guest Contributor

Must Have Two: A well-written news release

Once you have identified your strong news story or angle you need a vehicle to share the information with a journalist. Typically this comes in the form of a well-written news release.  

A 2007 study found 50 percent of 1163 articles in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Courier Mail, whose origins could be identified, came from PR sources. Today, with shrinking editorial teams and the pressure for fresh stories for immediate online delivery, it is even higher, and particularly in specialist and trade publications, the percentage is even higher. This doesn’t mean that journalists reproduce media releases word-for-word; it does however show that media releases spark many story ideas.

Below is a template for your news release. My guide to the content appears also:

FROM: Company Name, Address, Logo if appropriate

For Immediate Release (or when you plan to release your news)

HEADLINE: State your most exciting news, finding or announcement in as few words as possible. Emulate the headlines you see in the newspaper every day.

Subhead – Basically, the press release subhead gives you the opportunity to flesh out your angle and further hook the reporter, without stepping on the drama of the press release headline

City, State Abbreviation, Day, Month, Year – Insert Lead paragraph text. (This is Journalism 101 -- the lead paragraph includes the who, what, when, where and how of the story. If the reporter were only to read the lead of a good press release, he'd have everything he needed to get started. There's no room for BS, hype or sell. Just the facts.)

The Rest of the Press Release

The balance of the press release serves to back up whatever claims were made in the lead and headline. Use enough supporting material to make your case, and to demonstrate that, whatever angle you're promoting, it wasn't something you slapped together carelessly. Eg:

Paragraph 2: Quotes from a spokesperson or expert to support your news angle.

Paragraph 3: Detail additional facts that support Paragraph 2.

Paragraph 4: Give costs of products, services and/or details and call to action.


Here put the information commonly shared to describe your business or service. This is often referred to as your boilerplate.

Contact Details

Include specifics and be accessible. Telephone numbers, mobile phone numbers, e-mail addresses, fax numbers and website addresses help the media, prospective clients and business partners reach you easily.

Finally... imagine a good news release to be like an inverted triangle, with all the main story information in the headline, subhead and first paragraph.  If an editor was to delete every paragraph except the first, the reader should still have a good grasp of the story.

Stay tuned for the final two must-haves over the coming weeks. 

An award-winning print and radio journalist for over a decade, Phil(ippa) Lowe is the founder of Publicity Express, an innovative PR mentoring business offering products, programs and advice to help soloists & small business do their own PR.