National Federation of Plus
An Introduction to writing press releases
Written By Liam Wright
Ó1999 The National Federation of Plus Areas of
Writing Press Releases
As a group publicity officer, probably the first thing that you will probably asked to do is write a press release for a local newspaper. Writing a press release is the simplest and most basic form of publicity, but is often ignored, as it is the most effective method of publicising your group.
To write a press release you will require the following:
· A story to write
· An electronic typewriter or simple word processor
· Letter headed paper
· A list newspapers to send the story to
· And finally, two contact phone numbers for your group
The story that you wish to be published in your local newspaper is only prevented by your imagination. A typical story could be one of the following:
· New members Night/Open Evening
· New group programme
· New committee
· A charity event
· An up and coming competition or holiday
· A review of a recent event
· Part of a publicity campaign
· Change of venue
· Winning a competition
· Increase in membership
· A request for volunteers
The list of press release stories is endless.
The following facts will be required in (nearly) all cases:
· Who – Who are you?
· What – What is going on?
· Where – Where is it happening?
· Why – Why it is happening?
· When – The date and time of the event (this often gets missed)
· Contact – Who to contact if you want to take part
One thing that you should do, unless you either feel that you are going to have the space on one side of A4 paper, is to keep each press release to one story.
Let us take the example of a new member’s night or open evening
How to write a press release
If you are using a word processor, you will find this section so much easier. This is because you can write all the information into the computer memory, think about, store it, edit it and move the information around. If, on the other hand you are restricted to using an old typewriter, you will need to write this document out by hand, and then type it up at a later date.
A title will be necessary for the top of the press release. In this case Dinsdale Plus group are holding an open evening to attract new members down to the group. Therefore the title can be something as simple as:
‘Dinsdale Plus group hold Open Evening to attract new members’
This title is striking and bold, it does not want to be very long, it may not then take the attention of your target audience (i.e. the newspaper editor). This title may not necessarily be the one used by your newspaper if the press release is published.
The first paragraph should be an introduction to the story, containing the ‘who, what, why, when, where’ elements of the story.
For example Dinsdale Plus group are holding this new members night on Thursday 3rd September at their usual venue, The forgotten Arms off the High Street in Dinsdale. The open evening will start at 8:30pm, and their will be a short film quiz starting at 9:00pm. This information could be presented as follows:
“Dinsdale Plus group will be holding a new member’s evening on Thursday 3rd September, at The Forgotten Arms, High Street, Dinsdale. The event will start at 8:30pm, with a short film quiz that will start at 9:00pm.”
This has laid out the basic who, what, where and when, but the why element is missing from this paragraph. This is where a little bit of imagination kicks in to finish off this paragraph.
“This event is open to anybody who would like to find out more about Dinsdale Plus group and what it has to offer.”
Notice that in the above paragraph the age range of Plus is not announced. If the event is published as an open evening, you might even want to try and encourage local youth leaders, or parents of potential new members to attend.
Now that we have got the information that we are trying to project away, it might me a good idea in this case to introduce some background information about Dinsdale Plus group. Using a paragraph that can very often be re-used every time a press release is written will save time in the future. An Example would be as follows:
“A member of the National Federation of Plus Areas, Dinsdale Plus is an active voluntary social group, open to all aged between 18 and 36. We provide a wide range of social and recreational events including…”
The end of this paragraph would contain relating to events that Dinsdale Plus group have recently held or attended, or have planned on their next programme. For example, Dinsdale Plus like Go-Karting, Laserzone and Ten Pin Bowling, and regularly hold quizzes and sports activities on their group night. So this would be added as follows:
“Sports, Go-Karting, Ten Pin Bowling and Quizzes.”
This press release needs a little more to round it up, for a start we have not given any contact details and any additional information that the prospective member (or customer).
“Dinsdale Plus meet 9:00pm every Thursday at The Forgotten Arms, High Street, Dinsdale in. The group is currently offering a free four-week trial period, so you can find out more and try us out before you join. If you would like a group programme or any further information, please contact Fred on Dinsdale 676789 or Cindy on Dinsdale 675523.”
Different groups have different policies regarding the publication of names as contacts with the press. The above example is used by many Plus groups to allow potential new members to get on first name terms with the contact. But is has some disadvantages when a groping male phones up the female contact and tries to chat them up (it can also happen when the male contact is chatted up the female enquirer, but this is much rarer). This depends on the person involved, but some groups get round this by doing the following:
“If you would like a group programme, or further information please contact F.Jupiter on Dinsdale 676789 or C.Moss on Dinsdale 675523.”
This does have its own disadvantage that a stalker could get the address of these people from the telephone directory or directory enquiries.
Putting the press release on paper
Now we have the press release roughly written down, it is time to put it on paper. How this is done will depend on whether you have a typewriter or word processor.
The National Headquarters can provide high quality letter headed paper for a small charge. We are going to base this press release on this type of paper.
If you have an old typewriter with a fixed character set, then really this part is quite difficult unless you are very familiar with using them. If you were not sufficiently at home with a typewriter, it would be recommended to find someone who has a word processor and borrow their equipment. Many modern typewriters are much more like word processors.
The problem you will find with a typewriter is that you will have to photocopy your press release, or do a lot of typing. If your typewriter does not have a memory facility, go and find someone who has one that does.
These have real advantage over typewriters in that the word processor supports many different fonts, character sizes and graphics. If you are using a word processor on a computer such as Microsoft Word, Star Office or Word Perfect, then you will get the advantage of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get).
Fonts, Points and Line Spacing
In the days of the old style typewriter, you had one character set and that was it. To highlight text, the only options were different colours (some typewriters supported this) CAPITAL LETTERS or Underlining. In those days fonts and points were not an issue. If you are using a modern typewriter or word processor to write this press release, you will now need to use fonts to make this press release stand out.
A ‘Font’ is the name given to a typeface. The most common English font in the world is the Times New Roman font, as used by ‘The Times’ newspaper. It is a fairly compact font, and is ideal for large blocks of text.
However, it has limitations, for example Time New Roman is not very good for large headings. Hence a sister font called Arial was developed, which is not as compact as Times, but is clearer at larger sizes and is even easier to read. To give you an example
is Times New Roman
This is Arial
As you will have noticed by now, this guide has be written using Arial rather than Times New Roman. Arial does not some very clear advantages over Times in the writing of documents like this, as it can be easier on the eyes. Times New Roman on the other hand is much better for newsletters. Nearly all word processors have both fonts available as standard. The only known recent WYSIWYG word processor that does not have Arial as a standard font, is Final Writer on the Amiga, but this has an equivalent font under a different name.
All Fonts all sized using a system called pointing. 72 Points represents a font that has a height of 1 inch or 25.4mm. 12 points represent one pica, which represents the size at which the text is most readable.
This is 10 point text in Arail
This is 12 point text in Times New
is 22 point text in Arial
72 point text will not quite be 1 inch in height. This is because the text height is based on the height on the full font filling one line, which is slightly more than the height of the text.
There is no correct way of laying out a press release. It is up to the individual to lay the press release out to their requirements.
1. The press release shall be on one side of A4 paper.
2. The quality of the text on the paper shall be clear, reasonably easy to read and easy on the eye. Use either Times New Roman or Arial for the main text, with a height of at least 10 points (11 or 12 is best).
3. Ideally, the line spacing should be 1.5 times to 2 times the line height. There should be additional spacing between paragraphs of at least half the height of the text (typically 6 points).
4. The date of the issue of the press release should be present. This can be at the top above the main heading, or at the bottom.
5. The main heading should be bold, much larger and centred on the page.
6. Take account of the printable area available for you press release on the letter headed paper. If necessary print out a draft of your press release on a piece of plain paper, and measure it up to the letter headed paper. Once this has been achieved once, it will become easier to judge the printable area in the future.
Taking our example press release, if the above guidelines have been followed, the final result will look something like the press release on the next page.
With this press release, a covering letter has not been written. A covering letter may be an advantage in some certain circumstances but is not always necessary and can depend on the press release story.
Press release date 20th August 1999
Plus group hold Open Evening to attract new members’
Dinsdale Plus will be holding a new member’s evening on Thursday 3rd
September, at The Forgotten Arms, High Street, Dinsdale.
The event will start at 8:30pm, with a short film quiz that will start
at 9:00pm. This event is open to
anybody who would like to find out more about Dinsdale Plus and what
it has to offer
member of the National Federation of Plus Areas, Dinsdale Plus is
an active voluntary social group, open to all aged between 18 and 36. We provide a wide range of social and recreational events
including Sports, Go-Karting, Ten Pin Bowling and Quizzes.
Dinsdale Plus meet 9:00pm every Thursday at The Forgotten Arms, High Street, Dinsdale. The group is currently
offering a free four-week trial period, so you can find out more and try us
out before you join. If you would
like a group programme or any further information, please contact Fred on
Dinsdale 676789 or Cindy on Dinsdale 675523.
G. Olswald – Group Publicity Officer
Press releases – Some further examples
The next few pages are examples of genuine press releases that have been used over the last few years. Please note that all telephone number, website addresses and names have been removed or changed to protect the original authors.
Example 1 – Malvern Plus Mock Auction and Open Evening Press Release
Author – Liam Wright
Date – January 1999
This was an imaginative idea that did successfully produce a press release in a local newspaper in Malvern. As a direct result of this press release three potential new members turned up on the night of the first event – a charity fundraising night.
Example 2 – Solihull Plus General Press Release
Author – Pete Strawbridge
Date – 1995
This is an example press release used by Pete Strawbridge as an example press release in a Mid-West Area training day in 1995. This is a good demonstration on how specially designed press release letterheads can be used to good effect.
This particular press release would be been sent with a covering letter, hence the contact details are not given.
Example 3 – TAG’99 National Press Release
Author – Liam Wright
Date – 1999
Again this press release, sent to National newspapers, was sent with a covering letter. This press release uses bullet points instead of words to draw attention to the features of this particular event. It is almost, but not quite, a poster in its own right.
Get rid of your
unwanted Christmas Presents, and raise money for Shelter
So last Christmas you were given two copies of that book you requested, or did your Auntie give you a tie you would been seen dead in, or did you fail to circumvent death by 1000 pairs of socks!!
If you are aged 18 to 35 and have a very good sense of humour, Malvern 18 Plus have the answer. Wrap the unwanted presents in wrapping paper with a note attached to it with a vague note of the contents (not too precisely). Bring them down and donate them to the Malvern Plus Mock Auction. Next, bid for other unwanted Christmas presents, raising money for the National Homeless Charity Shelter, but beware, the item on offer may not quite be what it seams. Entrance to this event is free to non-Plus members, although there will be a swear box in operation.
This event will take place on Monday 18th January 1999 at The Manor Park Sports Trust, Albert Road North, Malvern. The proceedings will start at a little after 9:00pm. If you would like further information please call contact name on (****) ****** or email at
Film Quiz and Open Evening
On Monday 25th January 1999, Malvern Plus will be holding an Open Evening and Film Quiz to anybody interested in joining us. Starting at 8:45pm the event will held at the Manor Park Sports Trust, Albert Road North, Malvern (just off Church Street). For further information on this open evening call contact name on (*****) ****** or email or visit our website at
Malvern Plus is a member of the National Federation of Plus, a Social Organisation for all aged between 18 and 35. If you would like to participate in a wide range of social and recreational activities such as Sports, Exclusive Low Cost 18 to 35s Only Holidays, Camping, Walking, Night Clubbing, Partying, Quad Biking, Go-Karting etc… then why not try us out?
Plus also boasts is own training scheme that aims to help the community while you are having fun. This is free to join once you become a member of Plus.
This August Bank Holiday, instead of just boring
yourselves silly watching the TV, or moaning about your in-laws that have paid
you a surprise visit. If you are
aged between 18 and 35 then you could enjoyed a fantastic and cheap weekend
camping at Bangor-On-Dee racecourse from only £34 that is exclusive to the
members of 18 Plus.
Saturday and Sunday night Discos, With Live music on Saturday and Sunday Nights.
sports competitions range from Petanque and Golf Chipping to Five-a-side
football and Field Volleyball.
Real Ale Trip (£3.50 extra)
If you are not a member of 18 Plus then you are
missing out. Join your local group
now by phoning (01531) 821210 and asking about the 18 Plus TAG holiday – you
will not regret it.
 Centring the heading is straightforward on most word processors and electric typewriters, for example in Microsoft Word you can use the centre text icon in the formatting toolbar. Check your typewriter / word processor documentation for further information.
Last updated 22 February 2007 by firstname.lastname@example.org