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How to Write a Press Release

A press release is an important tool for alerting the media to a campaign launch, a position statement, or response to a recent political decisions or new body of research. Reporters often get story ideas from the press releases they receive. The following are a few tips and a sample press release to help you undertake this task.

Keep It Brief
The press release should be no more than one page. 

Write Like a Reporter
A press release should read like a news story. Start by writing an attention-grabbing headline that suggests your point of view. Below the headline, write the name of the city and state where the event took place (or the city where your organization or coalition is located).

Be Active
In the first sentence, make your organization or the coalition you are writing the press release on behalf of an active player. For example, “Parents For Public Health, a coalition of parents and health professionals, commends Representative Smith for supporting legislation that promotes comprehensive sexuality education.”

Provide Answers
Don’t forget to answer the questions “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” and “why” with the most important details at the beginning of the release.

Be Quotable
Highlight your viewpoint and include positive, succinct quotes from a member of your organization or coalition. Your goal is to get reporters to insert these quotes, verbatim, into their stories. Identify the person (and organization) from whom the quote originates. You also want to include poignant facts that support your organization’s position as these may also be put into a story verbatim.

Look Like a Professional
To make your press release look as professional as possible, be sure to include a date, contact name, and phone number at the top of the release. End the release with “-###-”; this journalistic convention indicates that this is the end of the release.

Sample Press Release

For Immediate Release
January 1, 2016

Contact: Ann Jones      
(505) 555-5555             

Sound Education Triumphs Over Ideology

Anytown, ST – On June 30, 2015, the Anytown School Board voted down an attempt to implement an abstinence-only-until-marriage program in the junior high and high school.

“Today, sound public health policy and education triumphed over conservative ideology,” said Ann Jones, spokesperson for Parents for Better Education in Anytown. “Our school board made a a decision to based on scientific research and with overwhelming community support, and they took it,” Jones continued.

Parents, teachers, and other members of the community had urged the school board to vote down a motion offered by a conservative minority that wanted to implement a strict abstinence-only-until-marriage program in the schools despite the lack of evidence that such programs are effective. In fact, research suggests that some of these programs may actually harm young people. Recent research regarding virginity pledge programs found that  those young people who took the pledge were one third less likely to use contraception when they did become sexually active than their peers who had not pledged.

In contrast, numerous studies of programs that include information on both abstinence and contraception found that these programs can help teens delay sexual intercourse, reduce the frequency of sexual intercourse, reduce their number of partners, and increase condom and contraceptive use.

“Our young people want, and deserve, open and honest information about sexuality that is medically accurate and age-appropriate. This is the only way they will be prepared to make responsible decisions in order to prevent unintended pregnancy, HIV, and other STDs,” said Jones. “Today our school board stood up for the health and well-being of our young people,” Jones concluded.

-###-