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Writing a media release: general guidelines

A media release should include the five W’s: Who, Why, What, Where and When and, if necessary, How.

Follow these rules:

  • State the most important issues first as this encourages a logical progression of thought and prevents any important facts being lost if the newspaper editor cuts the story from the bottom
  • Keep paragraphs short
  • Use short sentences with no more than one thought in any sentence
  • Avoid long words if a short one will do
  • Make it easy to read
  • Avoid jargon, clichés, superlatives, glossy adjectives, and abbreviations such as etc., e.g.
  • Use verbal abbreviations only in reported speech
  • Write all numbers from one to ten as words, numbers from 11 upwards should be written as figures
  • Punctuate using only full stops, commas, question marks and quote-marks
  • Attribute direct speech correctly to the source of the information
  • Releases should be dated, include the writer’s name, address and contact phone numbers. If anyone else is reported in the release then his or her details must also be included.
What a media release should look like
Copy must be clearly presented:
Double spaced, ample margins and several centimetres at the top of the page
One side per page
On letterhead.

Include directive information:
Head with “Media Release”
Address the release clearly: if known, the name of the journalist, otherwise to the newsroom
Include the date and day of release.

Be accurate:
Double check all spelling
Check that the titles of people and reports or legislation are correct.

If photos are included:
Make sure that they are sharp with good contrast between light and dark
If possible, e-mail images
If the paper/magazine is given several days notice of a photo opportunity, they may send their photographer
If the news release is going to television, visual aids are much appreciated - slides, maps, drawings, plans and diagrams can all be reproduced effectively.

When a release is not used
Remember: the media may use only ten percent of incoming news releases. Rejection may have nothing to do with the newsworthiness of the story, but rather a full paper or bulletin. Do keep trying with genuinely newsworthy releases. Once a newsroom gets to know you and realises that you are seriously seeking to share news with them, it will be easier to have the releases published.

DO NOT ISSUE A MEDIA RELEASE WITHOUT CONSULTING THE CONTROLLER DURING AN ACTIVATION OR THE APPROPRIATE MANAGER AT OTHER TIMES