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Step 2: Rules for Writing a Release

Workshop Steps: [Hover over a link for more info.]

Now that you have assessed the viability of your news release, consider how to create a news release with impact. This advice will help you make your release stand out from the crowd! We've divided our tips into three main section: content, format and presentation.


The content that you include in your release, as well as the way the release is written, will play an important role in the success of your news release.

Content Hints: Style

  • Answer the questions: who, what, where, when, and how.

  • Ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and without jargon.

  • Organize information from most important at the beginning through progressively less important information (the media may only use the first paragraph or two and they don't have time to wade through several paragraphs to get to the meat of the story!)

  • Write about yourself in the third person, using "he/she" rather than "I".

  • News releases are meant to be informational, not flowery or written like advertisements. Stick to the facts.

Content Hints: Headline

The headline should capture the reader's attention and is therefore very important. This may be the one factor that gets the reader to read the rest of the release. Here are some tips to help you create a catchy heading:

  • Alliteration: "Florist fashions fountain from flowers"

  • Use colons: "Wedding Flowers: A new look for an old custom"

  • Offer business or consumer tips: "Local florist offers tips on making Christmas wreaths"

Content Hints: Directing your news release

  • Ensure you think about the reader or viewership of the media you send the release to. Write for that audience. A large news or TV outlet is unlikely to be interested unless there is something truly unique about your business.

  • Research the media before you send out your release. See what kind of stories they air or publish.

  • When you write your release approach your subject as though you are a news reporter, emphasizing the news aspect and the facts.

  • When you send your release to a television or radio outlet keep in mind that there are two factors to be considered: sight and sound. You should therefore consider writing a different slant into each news release to appeal to the different kinds of media.

Content Hints: Tips to make your release more interesting

  • If you can support the fact that your event is the largest or first, for example, you can use these superlatives in your news release.

  • Use quotes and reactions.

  • Look for ways to sell your story: a new angle or detail may help. For example, think of the times you have seen a story about someone who graduated from a university. It doesn't happen, does it? Unless that person is a senior citizen or has ten children or suffers from a disability. Bring your unique angle into your news release.

  • Human interest aspects can sometimes be used to spark interest.


Layout, formatting, and attention to detail are all important components of your release. Journalists are accustomed to a standardized news release format, and chances are good that this is not the time to do your own thing.

Formatting Hints: Layout

  • Use a minimum of one-inch margins on each side of the page, with the body of the text of your release centred on the page.

  • Double-space your press release.

  • Complete the paragraph on one page rather than carrying it over onto the next.

  • Use only one side of each sheet of paper.

Formatting Hints: Length

  • Make it short. Two pages is maximum, and one page is better.

Formatting Hints: Format

  • Do not use abbreviations or acronyms when you first refer to someone or something. Instead, spell out the full name - Home Improvement Services - and then put H.I.S. after it in brackets. The next time you refer to it you can say H.I.S.

  • When you use someone's name say: "Miss Jaonne Armstrong" the first time and then "Miss Armstrong" in further references.

  • Use the names of both the city and the province the first time you refer to a location.

  • When you mention a day use the date and year.

  • Type 'more' at the bottom of the page when there is more than one.


You are sending your news release to busy journalists, where courtesy and presentation do make a difference.

Presentation Tips:

  • Keep the release neat and attractive ('easy on the eyes').

  • Use good quality paper.

  • Print the release on your company letterhead or special news release paper.

  • Proofread the release not once, but several times. Reading the release out loud will often help you find the mistakes you've missed; having someone else read over your release is even better.


Workshop Steps

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