How To Write A Press Release

PR Writing

The ability to write easily, logically, and succinctly is vital in public relations. The object of most PR writing is to grab the reader’s attention. Most press releases and other written communications for the media use an inverted-pyramid style, with the most important and relevant information at the top, followed by gradually less important information.  Before we start, let’s use  one of the templates from this web portal that can be adapted to your club or one from the RI website:



Writing a Press Release

The headline and the first sentence are the two most important parts of a press release. Make sure they are compelling enough to draw the editor or reporter in. Use active verbs in headlines, making them brief and to the point.

  • Develop a well-thought-out “news hook,” a persuasive reason for the news media to pursue a story. The news hook provides direction to the rest of the release.
  • Determine who will be the contact person for media inquiries, and place that person’s name, e-mail address, and phone number in the upper-left corner. A reporter or editor will more likely follow up when your contact information is easily available. If your club or district Web site is current, also include the Web address.

Lead paragraph

Include the five W’s in your first paragraph, ideally in the first sentence:

  • Who? The main focus of your story — a person or group of people that is the essential element of the story
  • What? The event or project with which your club is involved
  • Where? The location of the event, including a street address
  • When? The time, day, and date of an event or the time period involved for a person or project
  • Why? The reason this event, person, or project is significant to the general public

Additional paragraphs

In subsequent paragraphs, describe details about the event or project or how the person achieved something extraordinary.

  • Keep your release concise.
  • State opinions in quotes from club leaders, project beneficiaries, or person being featured or honored.
  • Decide what information is necessary and then focus on one or two main points.
  • Limit the release to one page.

If you’re sending a release to a television station, think of its visual needs. Suggest good video footage opportunities, such as unusual events, colorful scenes, smiling children, or celebrity appearances.

Pitching Yourself as “The Expert”

Journalists are always looking for experts on a variety of topics for feature stories. Send a letter to a specific reporter with an idea for a story and offer your help in developing it. Describe why you or someone in your club qualifies as an expert on a particular issue, such as literacy, water, eliminating global poverty, environmental stewardship, or conflict resolution. Include the names of people available for interviews, project information, and related story angles. Tailor the letter to the reporter and the medium as much as possible. Consider these tips:

  • Summarize your pitch in one page.
  • Explain why readers would be interested.
  • Detail the scope and significance of your project.
  • Provide a few interesting details.
  • Offer alternate approaches to the story when possible.
  • Describe possible photo opportunities.

Letter to the Editor

The editorial page is one of the most-read sections of the newspaper, and your letter can reach many people. Keep these tips in mind when sending a letter to the editor:

  • Make one or two points and state them clearly, ideally in the first sentence.
  • Make your letter timely. If you aren’t addressing a specific article, editorial, or letter that ran recently, tie your comment to a recent event.
  • Familiarize yourself with the cover- age and editorial position of the paper. Refute or support specific statements and address relevant facts that had been ignored, but avoid attacking the media in general or the newspaper in particular.
  • Check the letter specifications of the newspaper. Length and format requirements vary from paper to paper (about two short paragraphs are ideal). Remember to include your full name, title (if applicable), mailing address, e-mail address, and daytime phone number.


An op-ed (positioned opposite the editorial page) is an opinion piece written by an individual who is not on the newspaper’s staff. Before writing an op-ed for your paper, learn what topics are of interest to your community. An op-ed should:

  • State a point of view
  • Provoke thought
  • Stimulate discussion

Review the op-ed pieces in your paper before submitting your own. Like a letter to the editor, an op-ed should be brief and clearly stated.

Fact Sheet

A fact sheet provides details about Rotary programs to ensure journalists have accurate background information. You can download Rotary fact sheets from the Public Relations section at

Media Kit

On occasion, reporters require more information than appears in a press release, particularly at events.

A media kit is a pocket folder, preferably with a Rotary identifier, that holds general information about Rotary and your club as well as materials tailored to the event.

Your media kit should include:

  • A fact sheet or brochure about your club
  • A fact sheet or news release about the project or event
  • A fact sheet about the Rotary program involved