Press Release Guide

A press release is a tried and tested way to get a news story in front of journalists in the clearest, quickest and most usable way.

If you’re planning an event or protest in your local area, a press release can boost news coverage, which generates interest and exposure for the campaign.

How to start

Press releases are written in the third person, like an “announcement.”

They need to be entirely fact-based. Your opinion is not news. You can get opinion, colour and fun into your press release through quotes.

The ideal structure of a press release - also see template below

Date: Always put the date of release on it, in bold, at the top. Some people say “for immediate release.” Don’t. If your press release is not for immediate release, don’t send it until the item is ready for release.

Headline: On one line, in bold. Ideally no more than 10 words. This is the hook for your story, and it should make total sense what the story is about from this headline. Think how many times you don’t even click through from a headline online, but still know the news. This is what you want.

First paragraph: What the story is, in no more than 2 short sentences. It does not need names of people or organisations, unless they are crucial to the news.

If you’re writing for a small local publication, then writing the name of a town in the first paragraph will really boost uptake of local news. But only if this is the case. For example, the national version would be “a man has been arrested for…” and the local version is “a Bedford man has been arrested for.”

Second paragraph: Expansion on paragraph one, with some new information. You can put a name in here if important.

Third paragraph: This is the best place for a quote from someone involved in the campaign or who , ideally no more than two sentences. Include the name, age (if possible) and job title or relevant descriptor, and then, “...said [QUOTE HERE]” Don’t put a quote in the body of another paragraph. Let it stand alone.

Fourth paragraph: Anything else that needs to go in, but which the story could totally read fine without.

Notes to Editors: Put your name and contact details as the first item in notes to editors. Other info such as website addresses can go here.

Sending it out

Find out who you want to send it to and send it directly, preferably to a named individual. Do some research at your target media to know who the editor is, who works on the news desk, which email they prefer to get news releases on.

When to send the press release:

  • For public protests and actions - press releases should be in the future tense and sent the lunchtime before your protest (except weeklies - check your media list).
  • Non-public/secret protests and actions - press releases should be in the past tense and sent ideally when it’s clear it’s happening successfully and as soon as you have a good photo or within half an hour of it happening.

Put the headline, or a similar story descriptor in the subject line. The journalist needs to know what the story is without opening the email.

Copy and paste your release into the body text of the email. It is more easily accessible and does not use as much data to send.

Make a follow-up phone call. Start by asking if your release arrived OK. It’s common that the journalist hasn’t read it yet, but opens it whilst we are on the phone, prompted by the call. We can then ensure they have all the info they need.

A helpful list of press release dos and don’ts


  • Keep to one page ideally, and two maximum.
  • Ensure the title tells the reader what the story is.
  • Keep your first paragraph to one sentence, and two maximum.
  • Follow an “inverted pyramid” model, with the most important at the top, and detail after.
  • Include short quotes of one sentence.
  • Ensure that the people you quote are available for interviews.
  • Copy the release into the body text of an email to send it. Avoid attachments and graphics that take time to load/open and clog up in-boxes.
  • Send with clear info about the story in the email subject line.
  • Use short sentences.
  • Use simple, accessible language.
  • Put additional info in ‘Notes to editors.’
  • Put the date at the top of the press release.
  • Add a contact and ensure they are available!
  • Adjust your release for different target outlets. For example, localise it for local press.
  • Use plain text in the body of your release, not italics, underlines, or bold.


  • Don't flood journalists and editors with press releases because they will stop reading them.
  • Don't put the most important stuff further down the release. Most journalists will only scan the first few lines, so think about what the story is and get it up top.
  • Don't try and write a funny/clever “newspaper” headline. Tell the story and leave the sub-editor to write the puns.
  • Don't be unavailable to pick up your phone and answer enquiries once you’ve sent the release.
  • Don't use jargon. Write for people who know nothing about your subject.
  • Don't use fancy language. Keep to simple, clear English.
  • Don't use subjective language. Fact-based is best and “a brilliant new project” is not fact. The journalist will decide if it is “brilliant,” “important,” “genius,” “exciting” etcetera. Only use these descriptors when directly quoting somebody.
  • Don't write more than 2 pages. If it is not captured in 2 pages, keep editing until it is.

Press Release Template



Headline - be as specific as possible about the event:

Don’t Pay [name of local group eg. Manchester] to [type of action] [at location] calling for non-payment of energy bills

1st paragraph: Who, what, where, when

[Hundreds] of protesters [from Don’t Pay and any other groups, along with any notable individuals] will [more details of what they will do and where] on [date].

2nd paragraph: Further details + why

They will gather at [location], before marching [route] [or any specific action to be staged] to call for people to refuse to pay their bills until the energy price hike is scrapped.

3rd paragraph: Quote 1 - personal reasons why

[Full name, profession, age, where they’re from] who will be at the protest, said: “[Something personal about why they will join, e.g. struggling with bills, looking after children. Feelings, motivation, opinions].”

Get involved

Join the march [or other protest] starting at [location] at [time and date].

[Event link]


More detail about the event and a fact about the energy bills crisis, referenced and hyperlinked

[eg. “Latest estimates are that average household energy bills will rise by X% [1], at a time when wages are falling by X% [2]”]

Additional quote

[Full name, profession, age, where they’re from] who will be at the protest, said: “[Something personal about why they will join, e.g. struggling with bills, looking after children. Feelings, motivation, opinions].”


[Details of upcoming local actions that can go public eg “The protest comes ahead of …”]


Contact: Name and phone number (make sure that person will answer any calls immediately. Preferably that person is one of those who has given a quote, or someone else who is aware that anything they say may be quoted.)

Images: Link to an online folder with images in it.

Label each photo with what is on the photo eg. name.

Preferably send photos of the people who have given quotes.

Type “permission to publish”, and ask for any credits for photographers, or “no credit necessary”

Notes for Editors:

Put all the links in full here:

[1] [website link]

[2] [website link]

Extra info

About Don’t Pay

We are a movement against the rise in energy bills

  • We demand a reduction in energy bills to an affordable level.
  • We will cancel our direct debits from Oct 1, if we are ignored.
  • We will take this action if pledges reach 1 million by then.

Don’t Pay website | Don’t Pay FAQs