How to Write an AP Style Press Release

Intelligent Relations
By Intelligent Relations Team

For a press release to get considered for publication, it needs to clearly present information in an unbiased way that grabs the reader’s attention—it’s not as easy as you might think.

More important, a press release needs to follow a particular format if a media outlet will even read it.  

One of the most widely accepted formats you can learn to improve your press release immediately is the Associated Press (AP) style format.

That’s why this article will tell you how to write an AP style press release that will get noticed.

Want a fresh pair of eyes to check your press release formatting?

Let us take a look! Book a consultation with one of our PR experts today and we will make sure your announcement is following AP style guidelines for press releases.

AP Style Press Release – What is it? Why is it important?

Let’s start with the basics:

What is the AP style?

AP style is a set of guidelines laid out by the Associated Press for journalists and the press. They cover grammar, punctuation, and formatting for different types of news writing. Whether you’re writing an article for the New York Times or a press release, AP style is the gold standard. 

What is AP style for press releases?

AP style for press releases is simply following AP style guidelines to craft the format and inform the style of your media announcements. For starters, use AP style guidelines for punctuation, grammar, and font. Then use the press release format in AP style to layout your content.

Here are some examples of general rules from the AP style guide:

  1. Punctuation
    • One space after the period at the end of a sentence. 
    • Don’t use the Oxford Comma.
  1. Font
    • Use common, default word processor fonts – e.g., Times New Roman or Arial.
    • Headline 14 pt. / Subheader 13 pt. / Body 12 pt.
  1. Style
  1. Numbers and Dates
    1. Write out numbers up to nine. After nine, you can use numerals. 
    2. Use numbers for dates and abbreviations for months with more than five letters.

Why should you make an AP style press release?

Using an industry standard press release format makes it easy for journalists and editors to quickly read your press release and assess whether it’s newsworthy. If a press release doesn’t follow these standards, it’s more likely to end up in the trash than on an editor’s desk.

You can make any announcement an AP style press release. Keep in mind there are still different types of press releases. Below are examples of different types of AP style press releases.

Event Press Release

Any company or organization planning to host or sponsor a special event will issue a press release as an invitation for the media to cover the event. 

The event itself might be a convention, a fundraiser, or an initiative. Any event can warrant a press release, but the event itself must be newsworthy to be published. 

Book Launch Press Release

Professional writers will put out a press release to announce the launch of a new book to generate ongoing coverage. 

However, media outlets might not be interested unless the book launch is part of a wider context or is impactful in some way—for example if a major public figure releases a memoir. 

New Hire Press Release

One of the most common types of press releases is the new hire press release. 

This press release details new hires (usually C-suite) by a company of interest to shareholders, customers, and journalists that cover that particular industry. 

Elements of an AP Style Press Release

Press releases rely on three major qualities. They are short, informative, and direct. Nobody reads a press release for fun, so the sooner they get the information they need the better.

To accomplish this in your own press release, stick to the “5 Ws” when you’re writing:

  • Who is the subject of the press release?
  • What is the press release about?
  • When is the focus of the announcement taking place?
  • Where will the focus of the announcement take place?
  • Why is the focus of the announcement taking place?

When you stick to answering these questions in a quick and straightforward manner, your press release will stay relevant and concise. 

How to Write an AP Style Press Release 

While some of these guidelines might seem trivial, rest assured, media outlets don’t see it that way. If you want your press release to generate media coverage, keep to the expected style and format outlined below to get it right.

AP Style Press Release Layout

Writing press releases follows a structure known in journalism as the “inverted pyramid,” with the most important information coming first and the least important coming last. It’s used because it works, and anyone reading a press release following this structure is likely to finish it.

  • Title: Also called the “headline,” this is what a reader sees first, so it needs to be short, clear, and attention-grabbing.
  • First Paragraph: This is where the most crucial information in the press release will appear (i.e., the 5 W’s). Keep it under 80 words.
  • Second and Third Paragraphs: Any additional information relevant to the announcement is included here. This will provide a broader context that may be used by a media outlet as a basis for any coverage. 
  • Quote: All good press releases include a short quote from someone involved in the focus of the announcement. It should have a positive and optimistic tone.
  • Fourth Paragraph: Bring a formal end to your announcement with a few words about what the announcement means and why it might be relevant.
  • Boilerplate: The boilerplate is a brief description of the issuer of the announcement, whether an organization or an individual. This should be no longer than 100 words.
  • Contact Info: At the very bottom of the press release, contact information for press inquiries appears. For a company or organization, this would be a media manager. For an individual, it might be either personal contact information or an agent’s.

Press Release Basics

Although formatting a press release is the most crucial element, so is style. Keep the following tips in mind when crafting your press release:

  • Write it like a news article. A press release isn’t a pitch. It should come across like a news article written by a professional—stick to the facts.
  • Write it in the third person. Throughout, keep the point of view in the third person, like an independent observer. The only exception will be the quote.
  • Keep it short. Press releases are typically only one page of copy, two at the most, so keep yours within this limit.
  • Keep prose neutral and hyperbole-free. Remember, you’re not trying to sell a reader, you’re trying to generate interest in the announcement itself. Keep the prose unbiased, and free of effusive or excessive language.
  • Think carefully about the target audience. Take into account who the press release is for, be it shareholders, partners, or customers. Whoever that target audience is, keep them in mind and ask yourself what information they’d be most interested in.
  • Consider the media outlets you’re going to send it to. As per the previous point: your media audience needs to see the information as relevant to their readership, so how can you present the press release in the most interesting way possible?

Creating the “Hook”

Generally, press releases aren’t interesting reads. In fact, a lot of them are dull and tedious, frankly. But, they can be made a little more interesting by establishing an intriguing “hook,” and running it through the length of the press release.

Hooks are what compels a reader to keep reading and, hopefully, ultimately, will lead a journalist to provide press coverage. Focus on these key areas for planting your hooks:

  • The Headline: Since this leads off the press release, it needs to be compelling. Use bold and exciting words to elicit emotion or encourage action (e.g., “[Company X] Announces Plans to Host Major Partnership Event to Feature Biggest Names in the Automotive Industry”)
  • The First Paragraph: Once you’ve got a reader’s attention with the headline, this is where you reel them in. Tell the reader what the announcement is about using language to pique their interest. Remember, though, don’t oversell or resort to hyperbole.
  • The Fourth Paragraph: Conclude with fitting words to hint to the reader of what’s to come. For an event press release, this might regard the venue or accommodations. For a new hire, this might change the hire will bring to the company. Whatever it is, leave the reader with the sense it’s the beginning of something great. 

AP Style Press Release Examples

There are countless examples of press releases online, good, bad, and even downright terrible. But, to save you time, we curated these three below to serve as inspiration.

  • AP Style Press Release for an Event – Nutanix announces a virtual event using AP style.
  • AP Style Press Release for a Book Launch – Bloomsbury announces the much anticipated, exciting third book in Sarah J Maas’s Crescent City series.
  • AP Style Press Release for a New Hire – Revere Securities announces a new hire joining the firm as chief operating officer.

We offer many different press release resources, check out some of our guides:

New York Times Press Release Submission

Cryptocurrency Press Release Distribution

Political Press Release Example

Sending Your AP Style Press Release 

With your AP style press release written and formatted, it’s time to send it out for distribution. Here, your press release ends up in the hands of media outlets who, with any luck, will provide your announcement with the media coverage it deserves.

There are two main ways you can submit a press release, either direct outreach or wire service.

Press Release Distribution Service

There are many distribution wire services that will send your AP style press release to targeted media outlets and independent journalists for a fee. 

They typically provide an outreach report to show the impact of the press release, but be aware, for every good wire service, there are a dozen that will overpromise and underdeliver.

Press Release Direct Outreach

Instead of using a press release distribution service, you can send your press release to media outlets and journalists via email.

All you need to do is compile a list of outlets and then draft an introductory pitch for each. While this approach does take more work, it can also be more effective. Especially if you have established relationships with any journalists or media outlets. 

Wrapping Up

Using this standard press release style not only makes them easier to put together, but it also makes it easier for journalists to distinguish worthwhile press releases from the rest. This format style is used by a wide range of companies and organizations seeking media coverage.

Still not sure how to use AP style guidelines for your press release? Let us help! Simply book a free consultation with us to get expert insight into how to format and improve your press release.