I haven’t written a single press release in library school yet I find myself writing numerous press releases on the job. My experience writing press releases over the past year has taught me KISS (Keep It Simple Silly). Keep language simple. Consider who is your audience. What level of language is the newspaper written in? Wordiness should be avoided. Frame everything in the positive.
What type of articles does the newspaper write? Is your story suitable to the audience of this newspaper? Does it seem likely that they would write a story about your event?
Make the story/event interesting. Write a hook. Tease the local media (but keep it truthful – be very careful about exaggerating). Grab their attention in the first 10 words – tell them why they should keep reading.
A press release consists of a hook (one or two sentences) then the substance and a conclusion with who to contact. Keep press releases up to one page in length. I find that the local newspaper is looking for stories, but they don’t want to write the same thing over and over. Find a way to make your event new and interesting. Make contacts with your local newspaper. Thank them when they run a story. Even when it isn’t written perfectly. Ask them when it is best to submit press releases – what are their deadlines? and then work with them.
I think this is a helpful post on writing media releases: http://media.socialchange.net.au/using_media/How.html