How to Write a Press Release

By Carolyn Lee Vehslage

There is a specific format that press releases follow. The first line must identify itself as a press release, meaning that anyone who receives it may reprint the information contained within it without copyright infringement or fear of libel. It is a good practice to also state the organization’s name, or the exhibition title. The date also appears on the first line, but is right hand justified.

The second line gives the contact information. It’s the name, phone number, and email address of the person who will provide addition information, quotes, or photographs. Without a designated contact person, most press releases will not be printed.

These first two lines are single-spaced and in title case. Next comes the title of the press release. It must be in all upper case letters and center justified. Make a mental note to keep the title to one line and try to make it sound interesting. Your goal is to get the editor to want to publish it. And expect that she will change the wording and may even misquote you.

Now we’re ready to discuss the body of the press release. To make it easy for editors to read and mark it up with their favorite red pens, this portion of the release is double-spaced. Each paragraph is indented one tab length, i.e. five character spaces. The very first word of the first paragraph is the location of the organization or the event. The city is followed by two dashes and then your opening sentence.

(Philadelphia, PA)—“ArtQuilts at the Sedgwick 2004” will be in the Sedgwick

Cultural Center Galleries at 7137 Germantown Avenue from April 4-May 2, 2004.

The press release ends with a restating of all the what, where, when fact followed by three number signs without any spaces, center justified on a line by themselves. If there are multiple pages in the press release, then the center justified # MORE # appears at the bottom of each page until the last page.

“ArtQuilts at the Sedgwick 2004”
Sedgwick Cultural Center7137 Germantown Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19119 (215) 248-9229 April 4-May 2, 2004
Hours: Thurs-Sun 1-5 pm, Fri ‘til 8 pm
Gala Opening Reception, Saturday, April 3, 2004, 7-10 PM
Artists’ Brunch & Lecture, Sunday, April 4 – call for tickets
Education Day "The Art of the Quilt" Sat. April. 24 10:30AM-3PM – call for tickets


Okay, we’ve covered the mechanics of where to put what information, but you probably still feel uneasy about writing a promotional piece about your artwork or your exhibition. Keep in mind, a press release is not an essay, or an article, or even an art statement. It’s merely an orderly statement of facts with a few ‘sound bites’ thrown in to help the staff writers along after the editor assigns them your release.

The 6th annual exhibition will display 43 art quilts. Those not familiar with the medium of art quilts will be astounded by the transformation of fabric, color and texture in these works of art, designed by artists from across the United States, Europe and Japan. Jurors Ursula Ilse Newman, curator Museum of Art & Design, Warren Seelig, artist and professor of textiles, and Emily Richardson, quilt artist and teacher, chose artwork that truly represents the diversity evident in this art form.

To help you out with your first self-promotional piece, please use what you can out of the example. Many publications now accept press releases via email. Remember to always attach a high-resolution image of your artwork.

May your press releases always be published accurately - CLV

© 2004 Carolyn Lee Vehslage

Example Press Release, by Carolyn Lee Vehslage (PDF)