General Press Release Guidelines

Keep it simple, clear, and direct. That’s a lot easier said than done, but it can be done if you put yourself in the place of your reader.

Try to engage your reader from the start with a catchy lead paragraph.

Get to the point and then elaborate on it, with increasingly less important details in the paragraphs that follow.

Be sure of your facts. A reporter, columnist, or editorial writer must be able to depend on you for accurate information.

If you can do so legitimately, convey a sense of urgency without being histrionic, perhaps through a quote from the head of your organization.

Go easy on quotes, however, and if you use them, be sure they sound like something a real person would say. (Most quotes in press releases are preachy and stilted.)

Avoid jargon of any kind, especially legal and computer jargon.

Leave no important question unanswered. Assume that your reader has never heard of your organization or cause and has little or no familiarity with your subject.

Favor short sentences over long ones. When you do use a long sentence, try to follow it with a short declarative one.

Stick to the essential details. Don’t try to be all-inclusive.

Be sparing in the use of acronyms. When you do use one for the first time, be sure it appears parenthetically after the full name of whatever it represents.

Limit your release to one or two pages, preferably double spaced for easy reading and editing.

Include visual aids when you can. A map, photograph, or other illustration can add interest to your release.

Have a friend, preferably one not involved in your organization, read the release to be sure it is interesting, understandable, and free of typographical errors and misspellings.

Be neatly professional (not sloppily amateurish) by producing a clean, clearly printed, easy-to-read press release.

Guidelines courtesy of the Mississippi Press Association.

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