Your news release formatting checklist
If you don’t write a lot of news releases, it’s easy to forget how to write one.
Of course, formats can be slightly different, depending on what country you’re in and what newswire provider you’re with. However the following is a list of standard news release must-haves that you need to keep in mind. Be sure to consult your provider’s style guide to get a clearer picture of what you need.
Keep it to less than 170 characters and be sure to put your primary SEO keywords in it. Also make sure to capitalize each word, with the exception of coordinate conjunctions (“and”, “or”, “nor”), and prepositions, unless they are the first or last work of the headline.
This is different than your lead paragraph. The summary paragraph is two to three sentences that summarize your news release. This would act as a preview of your content. The strength of this and your headline is what helps your release stand out in a list.
Different providers will display your dateline in slightly different ways. The bottom line is it should contain the date the release is distributed and the city of origin. Marketwire’s datelines, for example, display as TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Oct. 17, 2012).
With the exception of the dateline, nothing should appear in all caps. It doesn’t look professional and might make you look spammy. However, the following things may have the first letters capitalized:
• Your headline: See above.
• The principal words of titles: Books, plays, movies, paintings and the like are capitalized the same way as your headline. For example, “Shaun of The Dead.”
• Formal Titles: Formal titles directly preceding a name are capitalized. For example, Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Be sure to keep job description titles in lower case. For example, “Ryan LeClaire, marketing producer at Marketwire.”
Spelling and Grammar
Be sure to have multiple people read over the news release for spelling and grammar. Ideally, you want this to be seen by thousands of people. You definitely want to avoid typos with something this public-facing.
We’re sure you could talk for days about your company, but your news release shouldn’t. Try your absolute hardest to keep it between 400-800 words, so you don’t lose your audience’s attention. The sight of a long press release can immediately turn someone off.
Again, keep this short. Your boilerplate should be a few quick sentences that tell the world who you are and what you do. Feel free to add your company’s mission statement or something like that.
Depending on your newswire provider, you might be able to add pictures and videos to your news release. These will always help your news stand out against text-based releases. If you use multimedia, be sure to give your filenames and captions SEO friendly terms.
Don’t put your email address in the body of your release. Save it for the end. If it appears in the body of the release you leave yourself open to web crawlers who will spam your email address.
Put your contact’s name, email address and phone number in the contact line. Some wire providers, like Marketwire, will also allow you to add your Twitter handle.