The lost art of the press release

May 25, 2020

Press releases haven’t gone the way of the dinosaurs yet. Keep them short and simple to get the most out of this powerful marketing and exposure tool.

Defined as an official statement delivered to members of the news media for the purpose of providing information, an official statement, or making an announcement, a press release can provide your firm with a ticket to powerful marketing and exposure.

A press release is traditionally composed of the following elements:

  • Letterhead or logo. A letterhead usually consists of a name and an address, and a logo or corporate design.
  • Media contact information. Name, phone number, email address, mailing address, or other contact information for the PR or other media relations contact person.
  • Headline. Used to grab the attention of journalists and briefly summarize the news.
  • Dek. A sub-headline that describes the headline in more detail.
  • Dateline. Contains the release date and usually the originating city of the press release. If the date listed is after the date that the information was actually sent to the media, then the sender is requesting a news embargo.
  • Introduction. First paragraph in a press release that generally gives basic answers to the questions of who, what, when, where, and why.
  • Body. Further explanation, statistics, background, or other details relevant to the news.
  • Boilerplate. Generally a short “about” section, providing independent background on the issuing company, organization, or individual.
  • Close. In North America, traditionally the symbol “-30-” appears after the boilerplate or body and before the media contact information, indicating to media that the release has ended. A more modern equivalent has been the “###” symbol. In other countries, other means of indicating the end of the release may be used, such as the text “ends.”

Only 25 percent of respondents to the 2014 Marketing Survey of Architectural, Engineering, Planning, & Environmental Consulting Firms said their firm does not send out releases, and almost one-third (28 percent) of them were doing so monthly (or more frequently)!

The difference between the press releases of yesteryear and today is that modern press releases must be optimized for our digital world: They should include links (to social media and your website); photos; and videos, audio, and infographics, when appropriate.

AEC industry reporters state that the most straightforward headlines always work best. For example: USGBC Releases the Top 10 States for LEED

Grab attention with a good headline. Keep the press release simple, short, and get right to the point with punchy details and important facts near the top. One page is best, but Zweig Group recommends a two page maximum. Use an active voice.

Remember that a press release is meant for another news outlet. Don’t make it a sales pitch; that’s a quick way to make sure it ends up in the bin.

Christina Zweig Niehues is director of marketing and media at Zweig Group. Contact her at

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.