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written by Mel Chua, 2009-09-13

A press release is a “written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something claimed as having news value. Typically, they are mailed, faxed, or e-mailed to assignment editors at newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television stations, and/or television networks... the aim of which is to attract favorable media attention… A news release provides reporters with the basics they need to develop a news story.” In other words, it’s one way professional PR folks Spread The Word.

I’m going to illustrate this by example. Ian Weller created a first draft of the "we’re CC-BY-SA licensed!" press release. To see what’s happened to it since, compare the edits in the history of that page, and then read on; here’s how I explained my edits on the mailing list.

I added:

  • The standard “this is a press release!” headers (”FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”, location/date before the body text)
  • A headline (Fedora Project relicenses content to CC-BY-SA)
  • A boilerplate snip of org info at the bottom, yanked from
  • A shiny quote from Ian (this just in from IRC)
  • A contact info section
  • ### at the bottom, which is PRspeak for “end of press release”

Other things you'd need:

  • filling in of contact information at the bottom
  • nice quotes (for this particular example, quotes would be things like "This relicensing effort will enable us to $list_of_awesomeness, we’d like to thank $these_people," said $name, $impressive-sounding-title. “$shiny_media_soundbite!")
  • copyediting

Hopefully this helps explain things a bit. For an example of a beautifully finished press release, check out the Fedora 11 press release, which is professionally done, and you’ll see all these elements in there. It’s not magic – it’s just PR. ;-)

<shameless plug>Do you want press release help for your project? Send the Marketing team a ticket! (FAS login required) Do you want to help with press releases? (We can teach you!) Join the Marketing team! </shameless plug>