Press release guidelines
How they should be written and what they should contain
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. To ensure that they are read, it is important for press releases to be written in a reader-friendly style.
Communication freedom applies at the University, and individuals are freely permitted to provide content to journalists. Press officers are available to help in various ways. They can suggest contact channels, discuss options or produce content, for example.
A press release is determined by its newsworthiness; for example, it could deal with something that is novel or unusual, affects many people or gives a new angle on a current debate.
The press releases distributed by the University often address new research results deemed to be of general interest from one perspective or another. The research results can be relevant to society or “merely” be fascinating.
News on grants, awards and agreements might sometimes also be of interest but is generally best shared with an inner circle.
- A heading and lead paragraph that inspire reading quickly give the reader an indication of what the press release is about.
- 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. Be sure to avoid technical terms, acronyms and incomprehensible terms in the heading.
- The text should not be longer than 2000–3000 characters.
- Adding a microscope image or an image/video clip from the lab, for example, can raise the information value.
- Leave plenty of contact details (telephone and email) and remember that you must be available to answer questions when the press release is sent out. In press releases about a doctoral student’s research, consider including the supervisor as a contact person.
More to consider
The content should be reader-friendly and comprehensible, but it is equally important that the message is not misinterpreted or overinterpreted. Thorough preparation of the content can alleviate this risk. Therefore, consider the following:
- Uncertainty. Clarify any uncertainties associated with the research. Be clear about any limitations and weaknesses concerning the results. This can be done by describing the method and structure of the research. Are further or complementary investigations required? Towards the end, describe how the research has been undertaken, or add a fact box.
- Scientific status. Has the research been published in a research journal or is it a hypothesis? Has the research been published in expert-review scientific publications? Preprints? Hypotheses?
- Context. Mention related research and knowledge for better understanding and credibility so that the results are not misconstrued as biased or more (or less) significant than they are.
- Transparency. Be open about research funding and collaboration partners, as well as any business interests and commercialisation plans. This is often best to mention at the end.
- Links to include: Always include a link to the scientific article if the news is based on new results, as well as a link to the researcher’s or researchers’ profile in Lucris.
- Newsworthiness. A press release is produced because the content is deemed to be of interest to the public. If this is not the case, other methods of communication are to be used.
Lund University has a procured distribution system for press releases that includes databases for journalists working within various fields. Only the press managers at the faculties and a few people at Corporate Communications have access to the system. The same material is generally also published on expertsvar.se, in the news feed on lu.se/nyheter-och-press and on lunduniversity.lu.se/news
These press and media activities primarily pertain to a government and external engagement remit and are to be distinguished by:
- Credibility through truth and accuracy, as well as high quality
- High novelty value
- Being adapted for journalists in terms of language and content
- Moderation and openness
International press releases
Certain press releases are translated into English and sent to foreign journalists. As a rule, the content is adapted somewhat. This content is coordinated by Lund University’s International Media Officer Lotte Billing, lotte [dot] billing [at] kommunikation [dot] lu [dot] se
Lund University publishes the newsletter ‘Apropå,’ which has national journalists as its primary target audience. The newsletter is intended to give new perspectives on current topics, delve more deeply into areas where there is a great thirst for knowledge or highlight topics that should be spoken more about.
Principles for research communication
As a researcher or communications officer, when you are to convey information about research via the media, social media, events or in other public contexts, you should strive to observe the seven principles on the page below:
press [at] kommunikation [dot] lu [dot] se
+46 46 222 07 69
kristina [dot] lindgarde [at] lth [dot] lu [dot] se
+46 46 222 70 17
jonas [dot] andersson [at] kommunikation [dot] lu [dot] se
+46 727 07 45 46
lotte [dot] billing [at] kommunikation [dot] lu [dot] se