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Writing press releases

In the current media noise it is often difficult to break through with a piece of news. Editors around the country are inundated with press releases. In order not to end up in the waste paper basket, it is important for press releases to be written in a journalistic manner.

Several of the University’s journalists and information officers can help in writing press releases. They also have access to media lists and the possibility of searching databases for the right journalists who have specialised in a certain technical field.

The subject of the press release can be grants/results in research projects, forthcoming doctoral theses, good degree projects, unusual investigation methods, etc. The message should include at least one of the criteria of newsworthiness, e.g. new, unusual, affecting many people or new angle on current debate.

Discuss with an information officer what sort of press contact could be suitable. If the information officer recommends a press release, good documentation will make it easier to produce one.

Writing documentation for a press release

  • State the most important and most interesting things first, such as conclusions, consequences or opinions.

  • Explain what your findings entail for those concerned.

  • Avoid/explain technical terms. Also avoid vague, ambiguous words.

  • Do suggest a striking headline.

  • The text should not be longer than 30–50 lines and should only very sparingly include information on the method used to achieve the result.

  • Attaching an image or illustration, even a simple one, often increases the information value.

  • Leave plenty of contact details and remember that you must be available to answer questions when the press release is sent out!

It is apparent that researchers and journalists write according to often very different principles. Whereas researchers start with the background and circumstances, present their methods and finish with their conclusions and consequences, journalists work in the opposite order.

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