How to…Write A Press Release

A press release is a short summary of your research. Journalists often use press releases when deciding to write a news article on recent scientific research. Although some science journalists are scientists, they are unlikely to be experts in every area that they cover. Therefore, a press release should be clear, concise, engaging, and – most importantly – accurate.

The press release should be accessible to non-expert readers. Try looking through published press releases for inspiration – archived press releases can be found at news services such as EurekAlert (http://www.eurekalert.org/) and AlphaGalileo (http://www.alphagalileo.org/) or on institutions’ and journals’ websites.

Key elements of a press release are:

TITLE: Keep it short and enticing, and use the active voice. Avoid including too much scientific detail in the title. For example, “Cancer cells communicate through a new molecular messenger” is a better option than “Microvesicle-derived microRNAs are important for intercellular signaling in tumorigenesis”.

FIRST PARAGRAPH: This 3-4 sentence paragraph should include who (the authors), what (the main finding), when (journal and date of publication), and why (relevance). Again, use the active voice and avoid scientific jargon. The first paragraph should be a stand-alone snapshot of the research.

SUBSEQUENT PARAGRAPH(S): The rest of the press release should contextualize and provide additional information about the finding. Why is it exciting or unexpected? Nitty-gritty experimental details should be left out in favor of describing how the finding advances scientific knowledge, reinforces a key idea, or provides a new method. Importantly, however, the finding must not be overhyped or oversold. A brief quotation from a researcher involved in the work or from a colleague familiar with the importance of the finding can also be included, but be sure that they agree to be quoted.

CONTACT INFORMATION: Remember to include contact information for the corresponding author, including his/her name, email, phone number, and institution. Provide information for accessing the original paper, such as a URL or DOI.

EMBARGO INFORMATION: If the press release will be sent while the paper is under embargo, note the date and time that the embargo will be lifted.