How To Write A Press Release: The Seven Deadly Sins And How To Avoid Them

By Thomas Murrell MBA CSP, International Business Speaker

How do you write a press release and what are the secrets of writing media releases that get used instead of deleted?

This is a question critical to gaining ongoing media coverage in a consistent way for any organisation and individual.

And sometimes the quality of news releases actually sent out to the media is pretty poor.

Take this example put out by Tasmanian Liberal shadow treasurer Brett Whiteley in a press release issued on May 24, 2005 and highlighted in The Australian newspaper (June 2nd, 2005 page 20).

"All State Liberal Policy pledges are official State Liberal policy, as are Policy Position Statements. All Policy Position Statements and Policy Pledges are fully costed. The only difference between our Policy Position Statements and Policy Pledges is that further detail associated with our Policy Pledges will be released at a later date. This detail will be released at the time of our choosing."

Phew! What did he say?

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If you can write this more concisely, email with your efforts at and the best rewrite will win a copy of my book Media Fundamentals:8M's Essential Media Guide.

We see bad examples of media releases all the time. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Here is my take on how to write a press release: the seven deadly sins and how to avoid them:

1. No News Value
Your media release must have a strong news value and not be trying to sell something or be blatant advertising. The media will see through this.

Ask: what is new about what we're doing?

2. A Poorly Written Headline
A headline must grab the attention of the editor or reporter.

Read more about writing headlines in earlier postings in my blog.

3. A Poorly Written Lead Paragraph
A lead paragraph must continue to hold the attention of the editor or reporter.

Read more about writing lead paragraphs in earlier postings in my blog.

4. No Quotable Quotes
Quotable quotes add credibility and human interest to a media release. They are the flesh that goes on the facts or bare bones of the story. They must be memorable and well crafted.

Take this recent quote from 1992 Olympian, Irish Boxer Kevin McBride in the lead up to his fight with Mike Tyson on June 11th 2005: "I'm not a pretender, I'm a contender".

Nice work Kevin - simple, memorable and direct. The media love it because of its structure and rhyming nature.

5. Lack of Clarity In Writing Style
Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking as my Tasmanian Polly Speak example above demonstrates.

6. No Call To Action
Your media release must end with a call to action. What is it you want people to do after reading or hearing your message?

7. No Comprehensive Contact Details
A news release should always contain current contacts details for the media to follow-up.

Want to learn more? Discover how to avoid these seven deadly sins and much, much more in our Writing and Pitching Winning Media Releases seminar being held in Perth on Thursday June 30th from 9am to 12.30pm.

Book here.