Following is a sample press release. This sample shows both physical set up (notice the dateline, headline and other tips) and ideas for content and content placement. In addition to following this outline and structure, consider checking out some actual press releases for ideas, too.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News From (Insert Your Organization)
Date line (day the release goes out)
Embargoed until (date) if applicable.Contact: (full name of a follow-up person), (phone), (email)
Headline Centered, One Descriptive Line in Title Case
Subhead or "Dek", Centered, Title Case, More Descriptive But Still One Line
([City where the news takes place in brackets])- In one or two sentences, write the main news or point of your press release. These can be longer sentences, but there should never be more than three in this paragraph. You'll not be able to fit all your details in here, and that's ok.
The second paragraph is what you should feed to every press outlet and reporter: the who, what, when, where and why of your event, announcement or roll out. This is what they're looking for when they read your release. Between this and the paragraph above, the reporter should now know everything they would need for a small "blip" piece. Of course, you want more exposure than that, so you provide more detail below.
"Here's a great place to put a strong quote. Make it emotional. Make it sell," said Your best Spokesperson, the Title Role of Your Organization. "Then, make your spokesperson finish up in a second sentence, usually asking for some kind of action or change."
This paragraph is your details paragraph. It is here that you give background, stories, history, information, or stats. This is where you paint a picture and bring in all the other "stuff" you want people to know about your announcement.
"Sometimes, you can put a second quote here," said Another Person, the Title Role at The Event. "This one also has a second part. You can use someone who is helping you with the event or situation, or you can go for a layperson's quote. Make these good, because sometimes the reporter will simply lift them directly from the press release for the story."
This last sentence or two focuses on the future. If you're supporting a candidate, for example, you can say what date the election is held, and what the stakes are. If you're advertising an event, you can note that it's annual and the next one is already scheduled. Simply wrap up by looking ahead in some way. This is a very short paragraph, sometimes only a sentence!
Some releases have a series of pound signs to signal the end of the news.
If the letterhead you're using doesn't have a footer, you can add a website and social media channels as your footer.
There you have, both content and format of a typical press release. If you're writing releases or other PR materials for your client, be sure to sell them on further needs, such as press advisories or backgrounders. These press materials often go hand in hand.