Press Release Checklist Item #1

This short item is from the Press Release Checklist,
a list of common problems with PR writing assignments.

Baskerville Old Face #1

Format problems: something's out of whack -- Remember that format is the all-important first impression that editors receive. When they handle hundreds of releases every day, they learn that they can discount releases that don't look professional -- chances are they are unprofessional in other ways as well. You can expect that your release won't even get read if the format is shoddy. Besides that, your boss will put you in the private category of "screw-up" if you need to be told more than once "how things are done around here." Each agency will have its own style. For the "agency" that you work for when you're in this class, these are the rules:

  • Is your contact information aligned in the upper left? Did you remember to supply two phone numbers, one of them a night line?

  • Are the release date and "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE" where they belong? Is "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE" all caps?

  • Is your headline all caps but not bold or italicized or underlined? Is it centered beneath enough white space for editors to write a comment on your release?

  • Are the margins one inch, the indents at least 15 spaces, and the type face a clear 12-point type?

  • Is the release double-spaced, with no additional spacing between paragraphs?

  • Does the release fit on two pages, no more, no less?

  • Does the first page break at the end of a paragraph?

  • Does the first page have "- more -" at the bottom? Does the second page have a slug line in the upper left and "PAGE TWO" in the upper right? Does the release end with "- end -"?

This is not an impossible list of requirements. It's a short list of essentials for every press release you write in this course. When you get to your job or internship and you learn other rules, forget these rules and follow your boss's instructions. I have a reason for each of these rules, but you need to follow the format even when you don't understand the reasons. PR Writing is formal writing -- that is, it must follow a certain form -- and this is a significant lesson for you to learn, which is why format is so important to your grade.