If you’re running for elected office, there’s a good chance you’re going to need to write a press release.
The concept sounds more daunting than it actually is, so don’t get intimidated. When I first started out in politics I didn’t have a clue how to write a press release.
I was shown how to do it once and have never looked back.
This article covers the basics of political campaign press releases.
If you’re looking for more detailed information on press, please check out our free training course: Writing Winning Press Releases — The Secrets of Powerful Press Releases for Political Candidates & Campaigns.
To take this free course, click here to register.
The top of the press release should make it clear that it is a press release.
The majority of people sending press releases use terminology of “Media Alert,” “Media Advisory,” or “Media Release.”
The choice of words is yours, but all the same it looks like this on the top of the page:
***MEDIA ALERT ***
On the left hand side you want to put when the announcement you are sending should be allowed to go public.
For local campaigns you want the information out as quickly as possible, so you want to set it “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” with the same date you send it.
The upper left column should look like this:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Month, Date, Year
Now on the right hand side of the page list the person the media should contact for any followup questions or comments.
The first line should read: Contact: PERSON’S NAME.
The line under it should include the phone number (with area code) of the contact.
I’ve also seen an email listed for the contact for the phone number.
That is acceptable, as is listing both a phone number and an email address of the contact.
You always want to make it as easy is possible for the press to get ahold of you.
The upper right column should look like this:
CONTACT: First and Last Name
(xxx)xxx-xxxx / firstname.lastname@example.org
Write a large, centered headline that states exactly what is in the press releases and why the recipient should care.
Don’t beat around the bush and don’t be cute.
If a matter deserves a press release then say what’s in the press release.
If it is warranted you can have a sub-headline right below your main headline that gives a little more detail to the topic of your press release.
An example of how this might look is as follows:
President Franklin D. Roosevelt Announces Re-Election Bid
PRESIDENT SEEKING 4TH TERM, IS COMMITTED TO VICTORY OVER GERMANY & JAPAN
Open your first the first paragraph of your press release stating where it is coming from, specifically the city and the state.
If it was for FDR’s third re-election announcement, it would look like this:
WASHINGTON, D.C. —-
Then you would start the first sentence of your press release immediately after the three dashes.
Your first paragraph should be a synopsis of your entire press release.
Don’t bury the lead as they say in the news reporting business.
If someone only reads the the headline and the first paragraph, they should be able to get the essence of your press release.
Do not indent your paragraphs.
All of the paragraphs should line up on the left margin and not a single one of them should be indented.
Make your second paragraph a quote.
The quote should give a little flavor and depth to the first paragraph.
When attributing quotes don’t get fancy. Simply write that the person making the quote said.
Don’t used stated, exclaimed, or remarked. It’s unnecessary.
Said allows the reader to see who the quote is from without the brain stopping.
We’ve all seen said used so many times it rolls right over it.
Stay simple and stay with said.
I learned that from one of the bestselling authors of our time by the way, Stephen King, in his book On Writing.
Stephen King tells writers to always use said, and explains that Pulitzer Prize winning author Larry McMurtry uses said throughout his books.
If said is good enough for Stephen King and Larry McMurtry, it’s good enough for your press release.
All additional paragraphs should support the first paragraph, while providing deeper information on the subject.
After the second paragraph, my personal rule is to alternate between paragraphs that is a not a quote and one that is.
The quotes don’t need to be from the same person, but they can be.
If the quote in your second paragraph is from a person talking about you as a candidate, the third paragraph should tell us more about the person making the quote or provide more detail about the topic being mentioned.
The fourth paragraph in such an instance should be a quote from you the candidate.
Your quote should be about the person quoted above.
If the person quoted in the second paragraph is you, then your third paragraph should provide more information about the topic in which you are speaking.
You can follow up with another quote in the forth paragraph that gives more detail on the topic, or you can do so without making it a quote.
Always close out your press release with positive information about yourself.
Remind the reader who you are, what you’re running for, and why you’re running.
You can also list some prominent endorsements if that is germane to the content of your press release.
If the press release is about a new endorsement you picked up, you definitely should list other key endorsements you already have.
End your press release with three pound signs, now commonly referred to as a hash tag (#), centered at the bottom of your release.
If your press release is more than a page (hopefully it won’t be, you should keep these short and sweet if you can) then put -MORE- or -CONTINUED- centered at the bottom.
Regardless if your press release is one page, two pages, or heaven help us three page, always end your press release with three centered pound signs/hashtags, like so:
Example of a Political Campaign Press Release
Here’s a press release announcing an endorsement, which is typically the most common use of them on a political campaign.
This example features some fictional characters and a locale you may recognize.
And again, if you’d like to take our free course, Writing Winning Press Releases: The Secrets of Powerful Press Releases for Candidates & Campaigns, you can sign up for it here.