2018-2019 National Historian/Media Relations Ambassador
How to Write a News Release
There’s no better time than today to show your community how we appreciate our youth. Contact your local media to feature your Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen winners in the news. Invite them to attend your awards banquet. This also provides the opportunity to showcase our Young American Creative Patriotic Art contest.
A news release (also called “press release” or “media release”) is a formal announcement about something new or significant about an organization or business such as a new event or award. News releases follow a specific format and should:
- Be typed on an 8 1/2” x 11” sheet of paper.
- Include your first and last name, phone number, cell phone number and email address.
- Be as brief as possible, but if it is necessary to go to two pages, type (MORE) on the bottom of the first page and identify the release on top of Page 2.
- Three number signs (###) indicate the end of a release. Please use this at the end of your release.
- Note the correct use of quotations. If quoted material is spread over two paragraphs, there are no quotation marks at the end of the first paragraph. The closing quotation marks are used at the end of the quoted material.
- On first reference, a company name is entirely spelled out, but if it is going to be repeated, it is abbreviated in parentheses: Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
- You are encouraged to end your releases with a statement explaining who we are, called a boilerplate. Note: This statement will go AFTER the three number signs (###). An example is below:
The VFW Auxiliary is one of the nation’s oldest veterans’ service organizations and our members are the relatives of those who have served in overseas combat. We have nearly 475,000 members nationwide who volunteer millions of hours and fundraise millions of dollars for charitable projects that benefit veterans, military service personnel and their families. We assist the VFW pass or block legislation that impacts veterans and their families, and provide nearly a million volunteer hours in the VA medical system each year. Learn more at vfwauxiliary.org.
Include Contact Information
- Who can this reporter follow up with? Don’t forget to include a contact(s) name, email address and phone number.
- This typically appears at the top of the page above the headline.
- Keep it short
- Use active voice
- Avoid jargon
- Write your headline last
First sentence: Get Their Attention!
When you read a book or article, isn’t a good beginning what keeps you reading? The same holds true for a press release or subject line in an email when you’re pitching your idea to the press. Make this first sentence or email subject interesting and factual.
Body: Be Concise and Get to the Point
Always include the who, what, when, where and why
- Who – Who are you talking about? Can you include a quote from them?
- What – What is the event or activity?
- When/Where – When and where can the reporter cover this story?
- Why – Why would the reporter want to cover this? How is it interesting or unique?
News releases are one way to reach reporters and media personalities in your community. Need help or guidance with writing a news release? Find sample and fillable press releases at www.vfwauxiliary.org/resources under “Historian/Media Relations” and “Scholarships.”