Section 2: Building Media Relations
Types of News Media
Organization Communication
Building Blocks
Guidelines for Media Interviews
Press Releases
Editors' Advisories
Public Service Announcements
Press Conferences
Editorial Board
Internet Strategies
Talk Shows
Developing A Media Plan

Link to A Guide for Journalists Who Report on Crime and Crime Victims
Link to Crime Victim Outreach Tip Sheets

Victim Media Advocacy:
How to Build Positive Relations With the News Media

Press Releases

a. Content
b. Format

Press Releases

Close up of a mock press release from Justice Solutions.A press release provides information to the media that is timely, useful, and informative to their audiences. Editors and news directors receive hundreds of press releases each week and have to decide what is newsworthy. A press release is generally skimmed, so it needs simple, concise details that grab the attention of the person reviewing it.

Not every event or activity is newsworthy. Press releases should always focus on news that is current or that will happen in the future. If it has already happened, it’s “old news.” It helps to establish priorities for media outreach (see “Developing a Media Plan” in this Section).

Prior to writing a press release, ask the following questions:27 27. Anne Seymour and Linda Lowrance, 1990, Media Relations, Washington, DC: National Center for Victims of Crime (formerly known as National Victim Center), (adapted in part).

Close up of vigil candle in a dark environment.  Many organizations and communities sponsor annual events to publicize victims’ rights and services (such as the “Silent Witness” displays during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and “Take Back the Night” marches throughout the year). After a while, the media tend to view such events as “old news” unless they present a new hook. It is important to consider new angles that keep news fresh, and present innovative approaches in both press releases and public service announcements.

a. Content

Fictional red and white street sign with a triangle with a question mark and a rectangular sign saying "Who, What, Where, Why, When & How".

b. Format

The standardized format for press releases is shown below. Some format considerations include—

Press release
Page two


CONTACT:  Contact person and organization affiliation
Area code/telephone number
E-mail address
Web site URL


City/State/Date – The first sentence should include the most important information to get the attention of the editor and encourage further reading.

Text of the press release—it is a good idea to keep the length to less than 600 words.

The last paragraph should always read: “For additional information about (topic of the release), contact (name) at (area code/telephone number) or visit (Web URL).

–  END –


It is a good idea to have several people review the press release for content and accuracy, format, grammar, and spelling prior to sending it.

Your press release should be sent to the media 7 to 10 days in advance of the event or activity.

Close up of a monthly calendar with dates circled in red.


27. Anne Seymour and Linda Lowrance, 1990, Media Relations, Washington, DC: National Center for Victims of Crime (formerly known as National Victim Center), (adapted in part).

(Top of Page)