The purpose of a media release is to put information out
to the various media sources in a useable form. There are a variety of
acceptable formats, all of which have some common elements. Some common
elements of an effective media release and tips for including them are
listed below. A good media release makes the reporter's job easier. Some
might say that we are enabling laziness. Why not frame the issues, write
the news and quote ourselves?
The media release on the next page was sited by the magazine
Campaigns & Elections in its January 1992 edition, as being a
positive example of a media release.
- Release date: You can put a date on the media release. You can write,
"For Immediate Release".
- Contact information: Always include easy contact information for the
reporter to follow up on the story. Include a day phone number of the
contact person, most likely the candidate.
- Bold Headline: The headline on the media release is one of the first
things an Assignment Editor or reporter will see. It will entice them to
read on. A headline of "Candidate Seeks Mayoral Seat" is not as exciting
as one that reads, "Socialist Seeks Mayoral Seat". Use strong and active
words in the headline.
- Newsworthiness: If you can connect the major point in your media
release to a larger issue, it will be defined as more newsworthy. If
there is a national or regional connection, the chances will be greater
that your media release will be picked up and utilized. For example, if
one of your major campaign issues is a stronger human rights ordinance
that includes sexual orientation as a protected class, you may want some
statistics or examples from other communities that indicate a national
- Quotes: Providing quotes makes the job of the reporter easier. They
can print a story without ever having to contact you. It also helps
ensure the accuracy of your quotes, since they have it in writing.
This also allows you to see what your quotes look like in print and
how they read. A quote designed for a reading audience might be
structured differently than one designed for a listening audience.
Never write a quote for someone else and use it in a media release
without her/his explicit permission.
- "The End": You need to let the media know that they have the whole
media release. Even if you number the pages (press releases are
typically one page long), put an indicator at the bottom that it is
the end. Some examples-all of which would be centered on the bottom of
the page -- "The End", "-30-", "#####".
- Getting it to the media: You can snail mail, fax, email or personally
deliver media releases. It is best to ask each media outlet about their
preference. Many prefer electronic communication, as they can easily cut
and paste it into their system.
- Using the media to help you stay on message: Having the media release
on hand to refer to in case a reporter calls is very helpful. It allows
you to stay on message during an interview. Do not let the reporter get
you off message. The media release can be highlighted so that you repeat
your message at every turn, do not stray from your message and repeat
your quote easily, as it is right in front of you. It will allow you to
better control the interaction.