How to write a charity press release

  • How can you ensure your charity’s news gets as much exposure as possible?
  • What are journalists looking for in a press release, and what should you avoid at all costs?
  • We share some helpful tips on the art of press release writing, to ensure your charity’s successes are seen by as many people as possible

We can’t guarantee you’ll hit the front page, but the following guidance may help get your story noticed.

Media expert Karen Hart shares her tips on how to write interesting and informative press releases.

1. Headline

Keep your headline short, simple and informative. A well-crafted headline should tell your story and grab the reader’s attention in just a few words.

For example, Quaker Social Action summed up their project helping people to budget with this headline: Over 1,000 Haringey people better off with Futureproof. In just eight words, they have included the name of their project, its location and the difference it made.

Writing succinct headlines is a skill and takes practice. Start by writing headlines for a recent event or a section of your annual report. Can you get the message across in fewer than ten words?

2. First paragraph

Try to include all your important information in the first section. Reporters may only spend a minute scanning your news release – so tell them who, what, why, when and where straight away.

For example, the ‘who’ and ‘what’ are explained in this concise opening sentence from a Demelza Children’s Hospice press release.

“A group of Kent County Council (KCC) apprentices is hoping to have moved a step closer to scooping a national title after raising almost £1,500 for charity.”

3. Bullet points

A busy news editor will scan your news release rather than read word by word. Using bullet points will help them pick out important information. Use bullets for facts, statistics and key messages. For example, in this press release, London’s Air Ambulance lists its busiest London postcodes and the reasons for its calls-outs.

4. Quotes

People’s own words bring your story to life. Quotes are a great way to let a beneficiary or donor convey the impact your organisation has made.

For example, North Birmingham Cats Protection quoted a longstanding cat foster carer for a training day report: “…I’ve much more to offer the cats and kittens in my care now when I’m fostering.”

It’s important, wherever possible, to attribute quotes to a person to ensure credibility and authenticity.

4. Call to action

Depending on the nature of your story, including a call to action may be important. You may be promoting an event or a fundraising campaign or need volunteers. Including information about this is vital to inspire action.

For example, this press release from Crisis about a fundraising swim includes a call for action in the headline and opening paragraph as well as contact details at the end.

5. Proof reading

Everyone makes mistakes and it can be hard to spot your own. There’s no substitute for getting someone else to read what you’ve written to check for errors. Don’t rely on spellcheck alone.

6. Contact details

If your press release captures the newsdesk’s attention, they may want to know more. But if there’s no-one around to talk to, they’re likely to lose interest and move on to the next story. Put accurate contact details in your ‘Notes to editors’ section at the end – include phone numbers and email addresses.

7. Provide photos

Your story is more likely to be published if you provide a photo. If you are trying to send a large image or multiple images, rather than sending them as attachments, include a link for journalists to download them (for example via Dropbox.com) or say that you have images they can use in your notes for editors.

Templates

We have produced a press release template for you to use and customise.

Just add the information you want or need to mention, such as your opening hours, funders’ details and your charity number. You could also include information to support a current campaign or project. For example, the Eve Appeal, a charity fighting women’s cancers, includes a link to check symptoms of ovarian cancer.