How To Write a Media/Press Release

September 29, 2022  •   LPi

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A media release, also known as a press release, is usually a one-page written statement used to announce an upcoming event that your parish pitches to journalists for publication in your local, or national, media outlets. The word “press” usually refers to print media like magazines, newspapers, or newsletters. The word “media” is generally a broader term that can include TV, radio, social media, and more. Contextually, when people refer to this format of writing, these words are often used interchangeably. To avoid any confusion, we’ll be using the term press release for the rest of this blog post.

A press release is one of the founding formats of your organization’s public relations efforts and is written specifically with the objective of being picked up and reported on by the media. A press release that is brief, formatted correctly, and presents a strong narrative, will have the best chance of getting promoted. Want your parish to be in the news? If so, let’s get started!

What Type of News Should I Consider Worthy of a Press Release?

Important topics that may warrant a press release might include, but are not limited to:

  • Public & Private Events
  • Changes to Leadership
  • Launch of a New Program or System
  • Grand Openings
  • Breaking News
  • New Products or Services
Who Do I Send my Press Release To?

Press releases usually go out via email to assignment editors and journalists who work for newspapers, magazines, television networks, radio stations or online media outlets. You may want to talk with your pastor about this as sometimes dioceses have distribution lists ready, or even a communications policy that can help guide you.

On the “contact” section of most new outlets there will be a clearly listed email with where they want press releases or news tips sent. Often, the contact section can be easily found at the very bottom of an organization’s homepage if it’s not in the main menu.

Consider sending your press release to local or national:

  • Catholic Publications — sometimes these must be accessed through the diocese
  • Newspapers
  • Radio Stations — Catholic and secular alike
  • City Weeklies
  • Churches — to include in their own bulletins
How do I Format my Press Release?

1. Logo
Be sure to write your press release on your church’s official letterhead. This can be in PDF format or just included in your email. The point here is that your release should look official and professional.

2. Contact Info
Your logo should be followed by your contact information. This should include your name, job role, church name, email, and phone number.

3. Release Date
Often this is simply “for immediate release” which means that anyone can release it as soon as it’s received, however, if there is a specific time that you want the information released, it will be important to include it here.

4. Headline and Sub-Headline
Often called the “hed and dek”, these may be the only item that your targeted journalist reads so make sure that these grab your reader’s attention. These should be clear, informative, and engaging. An example of an effective hed and dek for a church’s new associate pastor may look like:

Hed: Fr. Friendly to be St. Mark’s Friendliest New Addition!

Dek: Maplewood neighborhood church St. Mark’s welcomes new associate pastor, Fr. Friendly, to their staff, and are now claiming to be the friendliest church in town.

5. Location and Date
Make sure to start your first paragraph off with your parish’s location and the date of your news. The location should be in all capital letters and if you’re reporting from a well-known city, there’s no need to include the state as well.

6. Lead Sentence
This is your hook! In one sentence, try to answer as many questions about your story as possible. Consider the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your story. An example lead sentence for a church’s new associate pastor may look like:

Lead: On Sunday the 17th of July, St. Mark Catholic Church — a hospitable parish in the Maplewood neighborhood in Awesomeville, Ohio — will welcome Father James Friendly as our new associate pastor at the 9 a.m. Mass followed by a coffee and doughnut reception in our church hall .

7. Body
Support your story in the body content. This should include information that supports what you stated in your lead sentence. The key here is to elaborate on your topic with engaging information that draws your audience in. Images, statistics, quotes, details, methodologies, links to relevant sources, research, and all your most interesting details go here in just two or three short paragraphs.

8. Boilerplate
The term boilerplate is simply the fancy press release way to say, “informational content about your church or organization.” In a couple sentences, provide your reader with a brief description of your parish simply using the facts and plain language. This can be copy/pasted from all of your other press releases as it will likely be the same on every one.

A boilerplate for our fictional St. Mark’s new associate pastor release may look like:

Boilerplate: St. Mark is a Catholic parish located in the Maplewood Neighborhood of Awesomeville, Ohio. Founded in 2001 by just five families, we now have over 400 families registered and provide 25 diverse ministries to our members, neighbors, and greater community. We have both English and Spanish Mass options and embrace everyone who visits our church home.

9. End notation ###
Every press release traditionally ends with three pound signs. Literally, you can just copy and paste the following after your boilerplate:

———————– ### ———————–

10. Final Note
This is just in case there is more information on the story in a location that the reader can access, for example, on your website. It is common to just link your church’s website here along with any relevant social media handles.

Great work! Your news is now ready to be shouted from the mountain tops! To see some great examples of different types of press releases check out this gallery of customizable press release templates online.


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