How to Write an AP Style Press Release +[Template]

Cody Cromwell
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AP Style Press Release Template

AP Style Press Release Format


A press release is a formal announcement by a company or business of some news that they have released. It’s straightforward, usually written in third person, and can be submitted to news media. It’s a tool used by those in the public information business (such as journalists) to give them information about the newsworthy events of the day. The information is also known as a news notification and is sent to journalists via email or by phone. The press release is sent on behalf of the public information office.

WHO DOES THE PRESS RELEASE GO TO, and how it is worded?

The press release is sent through email to the journalist at their outlet or news outlet. The organization or person communicating the press release dictates the phrasing of the release. Some outlets and lines of work dictating that they only accept press releases in English since they don’t want other languages. The press release is sent in the body of an email. Most often, the press release is sent to The Associated Press Wire Service.


There are two types of press releases, and they appeal to different sources:


Punctuation and Capitalization

There are a few rules to punctuation and capitalization that you'll want to keep in mind when writing an AP style press release. First, since only the first word in a sentence should be capitalized, the first word of each sentence in a press release should have a capital letter, and only the second and third words should be capitalized. Use the same capitalized-only rule for quotation marks.

Second, AP press release style requires that you capitalize the names of people and companies, their positions, and the titles of their written works in the second sentence of a press release. However, the names of groups and organizations are not capitalized, such as a band's name or a group of scientists. Also, avoid using unnecessary apostrophes in your press releases.

Messages that are intended for broadcast via television or radio should be presented in the active voice rather than passive voice. Avoid introducing redundant superlatives, such as "the most progressive," which is redundant with "progressively." However, if you want to compare one statement with another, put them in the comparative form, such as "faster" and "slower" rather than "faster than" or "slower than."

For the most part, AP style emphasizes active voice and requires punctuation and capitalization be used minimally so that the release reads appropriately and easily to readers.

Pronoun Usage/Perspective

Write like an AP style book with a first person perspective, unless dictated otherwise by the subject of your press release. Examples of how to write like a first person style book are:

I, we, us, am, and my.

It was a great honor to be selected for the job.

I used to work at Kellogg’s.

I need some help with this.

I left the party early.

You should come with me.

I’m trying to create a website.

My dog walked on the railing.

My best friend is female.

My father and I are correct.

My mother and I are completely different.

You can also write like you write a third person book. Example:

They are in charge of the office supply room.

The vice president thinks you are good.

Et cetera.

Numbers and Dates

Principle: Associated Press style is clear, specific, and consistent—in other words, AP style numbers are always spelled out and are based on the year or years for which the event occurred. The AP manual also says to use the word “year” to distinguish between a date and a number. As a practical matter, the most important number is the date and the year is the next important number.

The best way to predict how a particular AP style sentence will look is to use this format: [Year]-[Number]-[Month]-[Day]-[Year].

When writing a press release, it’s also important to use consistent formats for dates and numbers. For instance, a journalist may look for a release R2450-12 if the release is filed on June 24, 2012, but there’s no such standard for releases filed on April 1, 2012.

Formats: The important dates in the year are 01/01/YEAR, 01/01/YEAR, 03/31/YEAR, 04/30/YEAR, 05/31/YEAR, 06/30/YEAR, 07/31/YEAR, 08/31/YEAR, 10/31/YEAR, 11/30/YEAR, 12/31/YEAR, and 12/31/YEAR.

Use Common Fonts

AP Style is the most widely used style guide for newspapers and online sites. In addition to announcing the basic elements of a press release, the guide also outlines fonts to be used in press releases.

The guide states that press releases should use two fonts with one sans serif font for the body of a press release and one serif font for various headings like the title of the press release, the byline, author bio, etc. In a case where a serif and sans serif fonts are used in the same press release, the guide states that it should be decided on a case-by-case basis.

An example of good use of fonts in a press release is shown below.

How to Write an AP Style Press Release in 10 Steps

If you have an announcement that will hit the newswire, your newsroom should turn it into a press release. A good newsroom will check their AP Style manual for a guide on how to write a press release. And a good newsroom will do a quick search on Google and use tools like the AP Style Guide to format, spell check, and proofread their AP Style press release.

Here’s a checklist for how a newsroom should write a news release:

{1}. Start with the headline.
{2}. Write the plain, unprocessed facts.
{3}. Include where the press release is coming from and to whom the release is being sent.
{4}. Write the date and time the release will be released. Include any embargo time, or a time when the release will be embargoed to the wire and edited by the wire’s news desk.
{5}. Include who will be receiving the press release.
{6}. Be sure to identify those quoted in the release by name to avoid the dreaded ‘anonymous sources say‘.
{7}. Use AP’s style of capitalization and punctuation.
{8}. Use AP’s use of numbers and abbreviations in body copy.

Decide Who Will Be Most Interested in Your Press Release

Who is your audience? The first thing you should do is set who your audience is. Think about your target market, the focus of your press release, and what keywords you will use in your release. It is wise to use keywords in press releases that best describe your topic. Using the keywords that best define your issue will help you rank higher in search engine results and will improve traffic to your website.

Releases can be distributed to a diverse audience, whether it be news outlets, blogs, media outlets, or a general public with email subscriptions and social media accounts. A press release is not limited to one single press outlet.

Describe Who Your Audience Is in the Headline

Using the term audience in the headline of your press release is a good way to include them in the title of your press release. This is not only much more appealing to your audience, but it also helps draw attention to your audience and ensure that they get your press release.

Using the word audience or your target market specifically in the headline is a good idea because it focuses the reader’s attention on who your release is written for. This is a good way to tag your entry and keep your audience interested. Try using phrases like, “for the client” and “for the media” in your headline.

Add Release Instructions

Your press released goes in detail, highlighting as many of your assets as you can, and giving as many people as you can a chance to get interested in your story. This is the perfect way to get a mainstream media outlet to pick up your story, take you seriously or even write it themselves. Let’s take a glance at the first page of a few press releases.

Add Your Contact Information

In this step, you’ll just need to add your most essential contact information. Include the name of your public relations firm and your name. Other information that you may want to include is your cell phone number, website, Twitter handle and LinkedIn account.

Write Your Headline

Like persuasive essays and all other forms of persuasive writing, press releases are written to persuade a reader. Look at how the home page of any newspaper or website is dominated with bold headings, and an eye-catching, attention-grabbing headline.

You can tell a lot about a story by its headline. So before you even start writing, analyze the story and determine what it is about, offering to the reader in the press release.

Consider the most common verbs used in the headline:

  • Ask
  • Appeal
  • Announce
  • Announcement
  • Announcements
  • Announcement:
  • Sales
  • Openings
  • Sustainability
  • Safety
  • Mistakes
  • Study
  • Statistics
  • Results
  • Safety
  • Beauty
  • Programs
  • Studies
  • Urge
  • Import
  • Undersold
  • Resources
  • Inspire
  • For Sale
  • Stores
  • Checkout
  • Preview
  • Study Shows
  • Did You Know?
  • Waterways
  • Developments
  • Results Surprising
  • Launch
  • Proliferation
  • Stock
  • Transitions
  • Reporting

Write a Descriptive Subheading

In your press release, you can put a subheading describing a project to make it easier for the media to find and understand.

You can use that heading as the center of your subhead line:

Student leaders honored at Technology Student Association

Youth awarded scholarships to attend the Blankspace Project’s inaugural event.

This way, a potential reporter can use the subheading to quickly skim the press release and find the information they’re looking for. This is what’s called in journalism – a grabber line.

And if the reporter decides to go deeper into the press release, they’ll be able to easily spot the elements of a good press release.

For example:

In only one year, Brown’s Technology Student Association (TSA) and the TSA’s new chapter in Australia (TSA Australia) has grown from one membership to twenty-two, has had two successful events, and has awarded four scholarships.

Here’s the grabber line:

Student leaders honored at Technology Student Association in one year

Add a Strong Lead Paragraph

Many journalists will overlook your press release if you don’t include a strong lead paragraph.

That’s why you should always start a press release with a paragraph about your company, its past, present, and possible future. You may even want to put a photo and/or logo in that line too.

Your main purpose is to give the journalist enough of an introduction to be intrigued. The goal is that when the journalist finally clicks through your email to your press release, they aren’t going to leave before reading it. And that’s when you’ll get proper attention for yourself and your press release from a journalist.

Some good lead paragraphs to copy and paste into your press release email can be found here and here.

Write the Body of the Press Release

The press release body includes the following elements in the following order:

Introduction: State the purpose of the release.

Body: Give a brief summary of the article.

Keypoints: Include the most important points.

Conclusion: Wrap up the announcement and include any other important information.

Contact information: Tell the media how to reach the referenced author.

For example, a press release for a new service could read as follows:

Introduction: We are launching a new service offering direct, professional interior design services to our customers through online consultations, at discounted rates.

Body: Today, homeowners look to professional interior designers to help them decorate their homes. But high entry costs, plus the average homeowner’s lack of design skills, is a barrier that stops many homeowners from achieving their dream home design. The designers from Zephyr Interiors, however, have created a web-based interior design service that will bring together DIY-savvy homeowners and professional interior designers who are offering their design services on a contract basis. Designers can upload their design portfolio and are immediately connected to homeowners who want to hire them to decorate their home. The designer accepts the homeowner as a client, and works together to create a design plan that will house the homeowner’s personality.

Keypoints: Homeowners can enjoy a greater design range with the professional guidance of a designer.

Write Your Boilerplate

The boilerplate is the very first section of your press release.

WHAT IS A BOILERPLATE? A boilerplate is the very first core group of points you need to use in any press release. This isn’t personal, but rather a set of guidelines put together by Business Wire to help your press release look better.

There are a couple of basic elements in the boilerplate. First of all, you need to have your company profile, dateline, and your name as the author on the first line.

Next, you can have a nice, short subtitle to highlight what the main focus of the press release is.

Next, you need to have the remainder of the boilerplate. Remember, this is just a basic guideline. It is structurally organized to make sure that the press release looks consistent, but you can organize it any way you like.

The remainder of the boilerplate should include the mid- to long- form executive summary (next). The executive summary could be the bulk of your press release, or it could be a very short paragraph at the end where you briefly highlight the biggest points of your story. The boilerplate is a great place for the executive summary as it is the first impression you make on the reader.

Next, you can detail your research using a more detailed subhead.

Check Your Formatting

Press releases are a form of written communication between yourself and a publication, only this time, instead of an email it’s a made-to-order, high impact form of article that is distributed to a large audience.

This is the perfect opportunity to conduct outreach to all your media contacts and connect with a new audience. Press releases are a great way to make a post reach its full potential as they are essentially a mini-article that you can customize to fit your post’s requirements.

But like any successful business relationship, the first step is to complete due diligence. In addition to ensuring that you’re on the media’ good side, it helps to research the organization’s guidelines to ensure that a press release follows their specifications.

In fact, this is the perfect opportunity to get to know your audience, its needs, objectives, and expectations. You just have to learn what gets their attention and what makes your post stand out amongst your competition.

To write an excellent press release is also about controlling your word count, making sure that there is a clear hook to grab your audience’s attention, and engaging the media by supplying necessary information.

Begin Distributing Your AP Style Press Release

The AP Style for writing a press release is as follows:

  • Email it to a contact.
  • Give them a deadline for publishing.
  • File a story.

This template has been developed to help you get started ASAP when distributing your press release.

  • General remarks
  • Subject to:
  • Name of the news organization
  • Name of the reporter
  • Name of the editor
  • Time the press release was received
  • Nature of the news
  • Source (you)
  • How long you will take to get back to them.
  • Type of contact
  • Primary contact (name)
  • Address
  • Email
  • Phone number (work)
  • Phone number (home)
  • Secondary contact (name)
  • Address
  • Email
  • Phone number (work)
  • Phone number (home)
  • Release is being sent to all following news agencies:
  • City/state of origin
  • Headline
  • Description
  • Date of birth
  • Source of birth
  • Oldest living relative
  • Name of spouse
  • Name of children
  • Full name of spouse
  • Full name of children
  • Spouse/children’s ages

AP Style Press Release Best Practices

A press release is a written or printed communication that announces or quotes a person, company, or event. Its objective is to provide newsworthy information to the general public or target audience. Press releases may also be used to announce new products and help maintain company branding.

A well-written press release can help the public learn more about a topic of interest and produce retweets, shares, and exposure on different news outlets.

That’s why most press release writing services present a marketing prospectus for clients. The prospectus includes stories that have executed press releases in the past. That’s because news is first and foremost in the public’s eye. If you can get news to be featured in different media outlets, you have a higher chance of being picked up as newsworthy information.

Journalists, publishers, editors, and bloggers appreciate a well-done press release because it gives them an opportunity to get the word out without having to expend as much effort as an actual news story. It’s also cheaper for them to syndicate press releases as opposed to printing a story.

Bottom Line: AP Style Press Release Format

You have received a release and an opportunity to write a large article. Here we provide a comprehensive Info & Outlines for AP Style Press Release.