What is it?
A press release is a short email you send out to journalists to alert them to:
- An action you are taking
- A campaign win
- A piece of breaking news that relates to your campaign
How do you do it?
- Research publications / media organisations and journalists
You’ll need to know who you’re sending the press release to. This is known as ‘selling it in’.
Research the kinds of newspapers, websites, TV or radio stations you think will be interested in your story. Find specific departments and named journalists if you can.
It’s best to get friendly journalists on-side first. If you are campaigning on the climate crisis, research who is writing interesting and informed articles on this subject. If you are campaigning locally on a local issue, who is the editor of your local paper? Are there local independent websites you can target?
- Make sure your story is newsworthy
Your story needs at least one of the following:
- Real consequences for the lives of the readers/listeners/viewers – nationally or locally depending on the level of media you’re looking to attract
- Dramatic conflict, like the plot of a soap opera
- It has just happened, or is just about to happen
- Famous or prominent people
- Novelty – “When a dog bites a man, no one cares. When the man bites back – now that’s a news story.”
- New evidence or research
- Writing your release
- Headlines should be as short and interesting as possible – put it as the title of your email.
- Write all the information into the body of your email – attachments get ignored
- Summarise your story early on in the release, preferably 25 words by answering ‘who, what, where, when, and why’.
- Use a quote to help tell the story but only from someone available for interview
- Write 250 words maximum
- Add a good picture or two captioned with the photographers name and an explanation of the image
- Say the release is ‘embargoed until x date’ if you don’t want coverage ahead of a certain time
- Include your name and phone number
Why and when should you use it?
When you want to get attention for your campaign, ideally to put pressure on a decision-maker, build public support for your cause or both.
Works best in combination with:
Media stunts, banner drops, or lobby meetings that are media worthy.