Anatomy of a News Release

press release sampleIt is time to write a press release but you drag your feet because you just don’t know how to start.

I totally can relate. In the olden days…five years ago…there was a formality to the release that just doesn’t exist today. News releases aren’t as formal today primarily because most editors don’t have room in their ever-shrinking printed paper to include local news. However, there is still a format that will help with writing your release.

From top to bottom, your press release should include:

  • Title
  • Date
  • Body content
    • Quote
    • Follow up information
    • Call to Action
    • About Us/Biography
  • Who to Contact
  • ###

Let’s expand on each of these elements:

Title: Perhaps the hardest part of writing a press release, blog article or e-newsletter is writing the title. It needs to convey the essence of the article, include key words, capture the interest of the reader and not be too long.

The best tool I have found for helping with the process is the headline analyzer available from the American Marketing Institute. Visit and click on the tab for Headline Analyzer.

Your headline will be measured based on the industry of your release and the following three areas:


Intellectual Empathetic Spiritual
Words which are especially effective when offering products and services that require reasoning or careful evaluation. Words which resonate in with Empathetic impact often bring out profound and strong positive emotional reactions in people. Words which havethe strongest potential for influence and often appeal to people at a very deep emotional level.


I used this tool to create the headline for this article. My first title was:

“The anatomy of a press release”

Your Headline’s EMV Score: 33.33%

Since the goal is a score higher than 50%, I needed to go back to the well.

“The most important elements of a press release”

Your Headline’s EMV Score: 12.50%

Okay, that didn’t work. Let’s try again.

“9 Important elements of a successful press release”

Your Headline’s EMV Score: 12.50%

Well, this is not as easy as you might think.  Again.

“How to Write the Best Press Release”

Your Headline’s EMV Score: 28.57%

Moving in the right direction. Again?

“proven parts of a great press release”

Your Headline’s EMV Score: 42.86%

Getting better – let’s try it one more time.

“anatomy of a news release”

Your Headline’s EMV Score: 60.00%

I actually tried 22 different titles before coming up with the one I’ve used for this article. Here is the analysis of the title I used:

This score indicates that your headline has a total of 60.00% Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) Words. To put that in perspective, the English language contains approximately 20% EMV words.

And for comparison, most professional copywriters’ headlines will have 30%-40% EMV Words in their headlines, while the most gifted copywriters will have 50%-75% EMV words in headlines.

A perfect score would be 100%, but that is rare unless your headline is less than five words.

Date: Start the body of the release with the major city and date of your release:

Your City, State, Month, Day, Year –

Bold this information so that it stands out. Note: when you upload your release to one of the many free news sites, you will not need to have this as part of your release. You will be filling out a form and the website will set the date automatically for you.

Body content: You grab them or lose them here. If your title is the most important, the first paragraph comes in a close second. Notice in the image above where I have drawn a red line? That is where most people stop reading.

You need to get the bulk of the information to the reader in the opening paragraph followed by a personal quote. So imagine a line drawn across your release. If they only read that far would the reader know everything they need to know? If not, it is time to edit.

Keep the paragraphs to three or four sentences at most. Each paragraph should have a purpose:

  • Opening: main message
  • 2nd paragraph: quote from you or an important source – if this release is about an event, perhaps a quote from the event coordinator.
  • 3rd paragraph: additional nice-to-know details
  • 4th paragraph: call to action – where they can find your book or the event or your website link
  • 5th paragraph: about you – a brief bio about you and your books

Who to contact: this can appear at the top of the release like it does in the release pictured above, or at the bottom. It should include a name, email and phone number. Again, if you are submitting the news release to a website, there will be a form that you complete that will automatically post this information for you.

### – this is an old tool used to signify to editors that they have reached the end of the release. It shouldn’t be confused with today’s hashtag reference. Use three pound signs (#) and center them in the page.

For more information on writing a great press release, check out the article from HubSpot which also includes a template. How to Write a Press Release.

Bottom Line: Keeping your name and your books in the news is an important part of your marketing strategy. Hopefully this article will help with the process.