How to Write an Associated Press Style Press Release

Two Methods:Sample Media Advisory and Press ReleaseWriting Your Own Press Release

Want to get news agencies to cover your special event? Find out how to quickly grab their attention and get the publicity that you want.

Sample Media Advisory and Press Release

Media Advisory Template

Sample Media Advisory

Sample Press Release for Fashion Show

Writing Your Own Press Release

  1. Image titled Write an Associated Press Style Press Release Step 1
    Get the most important facts of any event -- who, what, when, where, why and how -- and start writing. Journalists don't get upset if the news release is not a perfect in terms of writing, but they do get upset if there are key facts missing.
  2. Image titled Write an Associated Press Style Press Release Step 2
    Summarize the release in the first paragraph. In the journalism trade, the first paragraph is called the "lead" (sometimes spelled "lede"). These one or two sentences determine whether your release sinks or swims.
    • Example:
      • The Coronado International Historical Pageant, depicting the Hispanic and Indian culture of the Southwest, will be presented free to the public from 10:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., on Sunday, April 20 at the Coronado National Memorial in Arizona.
    • This is a fairly routine lead. But notice it answers all the important questions: What? Why? Who? When? Where? It also illustrates another basic rule on the sequence of listing time and place which is called TDP: time, date, place.
      • Time: 10:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.
      • Date: Sunday, April 20
      • Place: Coronado National Memorial in Arizona Alcatraz Island
  3. Image titled Write an Associated Press Style Press Release Step 3
    Write the rest of your news release in logical order. Use simple sentences and short paragraphs.
    • Example:
      • The Coronado National Memorial has been closed for repairs for two weeks and will be re-opened by the National Park Service for the public on Sunday, unit manager Colleen Collins said.
      • Ferry boat service begins at 9 a.m. daily and reservations cost $4.50 per person, Collins added.
    • The release had two points to make: Alcatraz Island is re-opening AND reservations can now be made, which is too much for one sentence. Put them into two sentences. News releases have short paragraphs.
  4. Image titled Write an Associated Press Style Press Release Step 4
    Use an editor's advisory. When you want the media to attend your event and write a story about it afterwards, send them an editor's advisory. Use the proper format for editor's advisories and make sure you answer the central questions of any journalism coverage.
    • Example:
      • EDITOR'S ADVISORY: Secretary of the Interior Opens Coronado International Historical Pageant -- a colorful, costumed fiesta of music, song, dance and drama.
      • Time: 11 a.m., Sunday, April 20. (Festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
      • Place: Coronado National Memorial, Hereford, Ariz.
      • Who: Secretary of the Interior Arnold Andrews and National Park Service Director Francis Drake Editor's advisories can also be useful at the end of a news release.
    • If you have an advance news release (and you should), attach a copy to the advisory. The advisory is particularly valuable in soliciting television coverage.
    • Include a brief description of what will happen, including what there will be to photograph.
    • Send press releases and editor's advisories in separate envelopes. That's because news media filing systems are usually pretty primitive. If you mail the two in one envelope, your editor's advisory and press release will both be placed in the "future" file. The editor usually will not make a copy for someone to cover your event in advance.
  5. Image titled Write an Associated Press Style Press Release Step 5
    Use trailer advisories. These should be separated from the main text of the release and clearly labeled. They are used to offer supplementary material, related to the release subject.
    • For example: photographs, copies of reports, and review copies of new publications can be offered to the media through such advisories. They must always include clear instructions on how the recipient can obtain the offered items.
  6. Image titled Write an Associated Press Style Press Release Step 6
    Perform quality control before you circulate your press release. The first rule to avoid getting your work thrown in trash cans is don't send trash. That is why it is worth taking the time to do a good job. Distribute your releases as plain text. Don't get fancy with formatting, and don't write in all caps. That's just superfluous stuff that someone else has to fix later to put your release in a usable format. And the more time it takes to make your release usable, the less likely it is to be used.
  7. Image titled Write an Associated Press Style Press Release Step 7
    Write your press release in the third-person, and write it like a real news article. The less time it would take to turn your release into an actual news article, the more likely it is to be used by the media. The third sample press release above is all wrong.
    • "We are pleased to announce that Fit Fashion Show is taking a giant leap forward and moving our annual event to San Francisco's Pier 16 on September 2, 2013." Does that sound like the way a real news article would begin? Of course not. A newspaper can't say "we" or "our" anywhere but on the opinion page. This sample press release's lead should be changed to "The annual Fit Fashion Show will be held at San Francisco's Pier 16 on Sept. 2."
    • "After two fantastic seasons of unparalleled success at Pitchford University, we have decided to take advantage of new opportunities." Who is "we?" Who is even talking? Whose voice is this? This sample press release is a mess.
    • Notice how despite all the uses of "we" and "our," the name of the organization behind the Fit Fashion Show is never actually given. So now, even if a media person wanted to use this press release, he/she would have to contact whoever distributed it to try to make sense of it. A media person using this release would have to ask the distributor fundamental questions like "Who are you?" that should have been answered from the get-go. This sample release makes unnecessary work for media people, and instead of going through all that trouble just to try to make sense of an incompetent press release, a media person is more likely to just trash it and use a competent press release instead.
    • Don't bury the recipients in a paper blizzard. Use releases only when you have something worth taking an editor's time. An editor who receives too many releases with too little news value soon learns to ignore everything that comes from the same source.
      • News organizations are trying to interest an audience. If your release will help them do that, they will use it. If it won't, trash it yourself.
  8. Image titled Write an Associated Press Style Press Release Step 8
    Distribute the news release. State with the "gatekeepers" of key news organizations and cultivate your relationship with that person.
    • Make an appointment to meet with them professionally and present your press release. Tell them all the key pieces of information of how you would like them to cover it. Respect busy professionals.
    • After you've made the initial contact, you can send press releases to them as new developments arise. Regardless of whether you choose to mail or e-mail something, the release must be simple. Graphics and attachments that may cause newsroom delays or disruptions will win no friends.
    • Don't try to save postage by putting more than one release in the same envelope. Since different stories are likely to be assigned to different reporters, this may cause one release to be ignored.
    • If you use email, the same principle applies: send separate releases separately.
  9. Image titled Write an Associated Press Style Press Release Step 9
    Use titles. Honor whom you're sending your press release to. In general, use the following titles to address your releases, unless you know a particular organization uses a different title:
    • Daily newspapers: City Editor
    • Weekly newspaper: Editor
    • Shoppers: Editor
    • Magazines: Editor
    • Radio Stations: News Department
    • Television Stations: News Director
    • Almost every state has a few newspapers that are circulated over much of the state and that have small bureaus outside of their base city. If such a bureau is near you, put it on the mailing list. Address the releases to "Bureau Chief" (even if it is a one-person bureau).
  10. Image titled Write an Associated Press Style Press Release Step 10
    Time your mailings accordingly. Consider to whom you are sending it and the necessary timing. Most feature departments (such as travel sections) and magazines have deadlines long before things appear in print. They need to get releases in advance. Weekly papers need releases just before -- not just after -- their weekly deadlines. The daily media usually have reduced staffs on weekends and are better equipped to act on a release received on a weekday.

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