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How to Write a Government Press Release

I served on the Comms team for the office of the mayor of a major US city.

Ron Kluvers said that one important aspect of accountability is information. Therefore, it's vital that government offices be able to create and distribute press releases to share information about their affairs with the public. Government press releases differ from those for private companies in that they are not directly advertising something, but rather are sharing facts with the public to help build support and understanding for their actions and decisions.

Government offices are making an effort to word the information carefully to as to shine a more positive light on the office or elected official. Typically you want to focus on positive things that have been accomplished. Even if the press release provides information about a more negative event or decision, such as layoffs or a natural disaster, you still want for your office to be proactive on the issue so as not to seem that you are avoiding a problem.

After choosing the topic for your press release, write the content in accordance with regular press release rules:

  • The language should be formal
  • Sentences should be concise and simple;paragraphs should be no more than five sentences, and also, try to keep the length of the entire release to less than one page
  • Consider your audience, what they are interested in, and what they understand
  • Include the who, what, where, when, why, and how

Once the press release is completed, be sure to post it online and distribute it to your press contacts.

Sample Format

Logo and name of government office

"PRESS RELEASE" or "NEWS RELEASE"


Date of release (optional)

Contact information for main press contact(s)


TITLE OF RELEASE (centered)

SUBHEAD (optional; centered)


Name of City (in italics) - Press Release content (font should be easy to read, like size 12, Times New Roman. Have an extra space between paragraphs)

The first sentence should summarize the news.

The next paragraph should provide some information on the issue, or if the issue is simple, then a quote from the relevant staff member or official.

Provide background information on the topic, like what contributed to the decision or what happened in previous years.

### (centered; marks the end of the press release text)


Office name, address, and phone number (bottom, centered)

Government Press Releases

  • Statements and Releases | The White House
    WhiteHouse.gov is the official web site for the White House and President Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States. This site is a source for information about the President, White House news and policies, White House history, and the fe

Additional Resources

  • Basics of Writing a Press Release
    How to Write a Press Release Sometimes people wonder whether the press release is still necessary in the modern world. That's because so much of information comes from online articles and blogs that the...
  • How to Write and Distribute a Social Media Press Release
    People who write for the web are always looking for new ways to gain traffic to their sites. Many have attempted to use traditional press releases but have found them to be unsatisfying in the traffic levels...
  • Press Release Tips | eHow.com
    Press Release Tips. A press release is used to announce an event, a product launch or some other newsworthy event. Press releases are sent to the media via fax, email, web mail or snail mail. When writing a press...

Comments

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on February 09, 2011:

I see your point but I think the information you gave here is useful for regular press releases as well, not just for government notices to the public about their affairs. I voted it up.

dustin on January 24, 2011:

Now might be a good time to write down the main points covered above. The act of putting it down on paper will help you remember what's important about How to write a government press release.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on December 01, 2010:

Very good advice and we never know when we would need it.

glassvisage (author) from Northern California on November 27, 2010:

Thanks everyone! I agree that they serve a purpose and can also be a real tool for the organization when used correctly.

De Greek from UK on November 27, 2010:

Next time I am in government, I shall think of your press release advice :-)

Vernon Bradley from Yucaipa, California on November 27, 2010:

Thanks for a "nifty" informative hub on something simple but important. I have used press releases in the past to advertise or to inform about different events I am presenting. They seem helpful and newspapers seem open to printing them--probably cuz they're short and sweet and do not appear to be advertising as such. In terms of government press releases, it is certainly a simple way for the government to release information without doctoring the information, but I doubt they fight the temptation!!

Vern

TopUniverse on November 26, 2010:

I never wrote press releases, now get some ideas on how to do that.

Dallas W Thompson from Bakersfield, CA on November 26, 2010:

CYA... Put your best foot forward. Public information from the private sector may at times may be the same format, depending on the needs of the company. Good PR with neutral releases with positive goods things/events concerning said company... is a plus.

The good "benefactor" company positioning themselves as a "community" leader with a "do gooder" white knight image is a plus....

Both government and "free enterprise" share common needs... The government is not concerned with profits which provides "opportunities" for the free enterprise system...

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