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Press releases

Last edited: January 03, 2012

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Press releases present the campaign issue, help reporters frame the message accurately, and provide background information and quotes from people involved with the campaign. It must accurately and persuasively convey the key messages of the campaign. If the campaign has a policy brief, it can serve as a basis for a press release, but may need to be shortened and adjusted for media use. A press release should not exceed 1-3 pages, the shorter the better.

The press release should be distributed during the press conference (if there is one) and sent to all contacts on your media list, including those who did not turn up at the conference. It should also be made available on the campaign website. If you produce several quality press releases over an extended period of time, they are likely to enhance your credibility. In many cases, because they present important information on the campaign, press releases can also be sent out to others beyond the media – campaign partners, allies, donors, even members of the target audience (such as public officials, lawmakers).

Main elements of a press release

  • Headline reflecting the main message; you can include a sub-headline to enrich the theme, but both headline and sub-headline must be as short as possible
  • Press release date (highlighted), names and contact details of campaigners who can speak to the media
  • Lead paragraph with the most important information (who, what, when, where, why, how), or a related human interest opening story that grabs attention.
  • Background paragraph with evidence-based information about the problem, possibly including statistics and quotes. The more hard data you have the better.
  • The solution and action your campaign calls for, i.e. the key campaign messages
  • Brief description of your campaign

If you want to give reporters extra time to study your information (e.g. when you announce the publication of a report), or to make sure the story does not appear before a certain date, you can “embargo” the information – i.e., the reporter may read the information earlier but cannot make it public before the official release date. In such a case, include the phrase "HOLD FOR RELEASE - EMBARGOED UNTIL [DATE AND TIME]".

A good example for a press release is included in the European Women’s Lobby kit for activists.


Illustrative Campaign Press Releases:

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Launches Campaign to End Violence against Women (United Nations Department of Public Information, 2008).  Available in English.

UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman to Announce Results of ‘Say NO’ Campaign (UNIFEM, 2010).  Available in English. 

Safe Schools, Every Girl’s Right Campaign (Amnesty International, 2008).  Available in English.