Preparing media releases
Media releases are a commonly used tool in the promotion of events. They save both you the journalist time by providing the basic information about the event or the story. Media releases also help to ensure that your messages and facts are sent out exactly as you intend them, as opposed to speeches or media conferences in which spokespeople can make errors or leave out important information. With a media release you can inform large numbers of journalists or publications of the event at the same time.
Tips for writing a media release
• Wherever possible, keep your media release to one page.
• Media release should be structured in an ‘inverted pyramid’ style, with the most important information first (so if media have to shorten it, they can just cut the last couple of paragraphs and it will still make sense). Some media may only use your first paragraph.
• Start with a headline and opening paragraph, include a quote or two and more background information before finishing with contact details (see Resource six—media release template for more detail). Use the ‘five Ws’ formula for your lead sentence—what, where, why, when and who. You need to win the media’s attention to encourage them to read further into your release.
• Titles and names should be spelled out in full in their first usage. Abbreviations can be used later as necessary.
• Do not use acronyms.
• Use plain English and an active, simple and straight forward writing style. Avoid jargon and clichés. Keep sentences short, and try to keep to one main idea per sentence.
• Use direct quotes from a spokesperson that are simple and from noteworthy or topical people wherever possible.
• Make sure that the person quoted in the media release will be available for interviews if requested.
• Provide a contact name and number that journalists can call for more information or to arrange an interview. Ensure this number will be answered over the following days (including after normal business hours). It is best to provide an office number and a mobile number for someone the media can contact with any queries, especially if there is likely to be interest on a weekend.
• Incorporate photographs with the release if you can, or note that photos are available.
• Know the media’s deadlines and submit releases well before, allowing time for the media to research details beforehand, attend the event, and include it in the next available news broadcast or publication.
• Identify any media talent (e.g. individuals, iconic figures, special groups) associated with the event and give their contact details—after checking with them first to make sure they are happy to be available for media comment.
• Make sure all the spelling is correct, particularly of sponsors and main participants.
• Ask someone who has not seen the draft media release to proof read it carefully for before you send it out.
Things to avoid
• Sending the media release at the wrong or inconvenient time (e.g. last thing on a Friday afternoon or just before publishing/broadcast deadline).
• Sending the media release to the wrong person or department (e.g. to advertising instead of news/editorial).
• Sending information about something that’s already happened or is not happening until a much later date.
Here is a media release template to help you put together your release
This template sets out the information included and structure of a typical media release. Media organisations get hundreds of media releases every day, and yours needs to get noticed. This template aims to assist you in writing the most effective media release possible. You can download this template and keep it for your reference.