Tips for Writing a Prewrite (and press releases)

View our Oct. 27, 2022 workshop on writing a prewrite here

What Is a Prewrite/Press Release?

A prewrite is a short (300-500 word) communication containing news of interest about an event. An event press release is essentially the same thing as a prewrite, but is formatted slightly differently and sent to media rather than posted on a Cornell platform.

What Can a Prewrite/Press Release Do for You?

  • A good prewrite, posted at least seven days before an event, will get attention for your event. The prewrite can be shared on social media and in emails to reach a wider audience.
  • For events that appeal to a broad audience, the A&S communications team can post the prewrite in the Around Cornell section in the Cornell Chronicle or submit it for consideration to the Chronicle news editor.
  • A good press release, distributed at least two weeks  before an event, can get you free publicity in local newspapers and radio. However, Iocal Ithaca media outlets rarely run press releases any more.
  • Even if you can’t write a complete prewrite, or a polished one, the more of a prewrite you can provide the more likely it is that our office will have the time to help you take it to the next step.


The following template can be used for as the basis for a prewrite or press release of your event:

  • Headline – Event name
  • A compelling lead sentence. Generate some excitement! 
  • Give us the details. Date, time, where, cost, registration, etc.
  • Why anyone would want to attend. What’s in it for attendees? This is often a quote from the organizer, or a statement about why the topic is important. 
  • Biography of who will be participating or additional background on the event (emphasize the human/academic interest). 
  • Sponsors of the event.
  • Photos or video – this will make your event much more compelling and increase the likelihood it will be noticed.
  • Website links.
  • (Note that press releases have special formatting; contact Linda Glaser with questions.)

See examples of lead sentences, details, etc. 

​Five Things NOT to Include in a Prewrite or Press Release

  • A list of every single sponsor. List the main sponsors only
  • Detailed academic biographies of participants. (Exception: if the event is a single lecturer, include a 2-3 paragraph biography)
  • A list of every single participant. Note only the most important participants/lecture topics
  • More than 2 quotes
  • Jargon. Make sure quotes and event descriptions are written in plain English.

Sample Prewrite Multi-speaker event:

Journalists join A&S professors to discuss global impacts of war in Ukraine

Prominent journalists with expertise in Europe and Russia will join Cornell professors to discuss the global implications of the war in Ukraine during an upcoming event hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Aftershocks: Geopolitics since the Ukraine invasion,” will take place Sept. 22 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Kiplinger Theatre of the Schwartz Center, 430 College Ave. The event is free and open to the public.

Featured panelists include Ann Simmons, Moscow bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal and the fall 2022 Zubrow Distinguished Visiting Journalist in A&S, and Mark Landler, London bureau chief for the New York Times.

Faculty panelists include Peter Katzenstein, the Walter S. Carpenter, Jr. Professor of International Studies (A&S) and Jessica Chen Weiss, the Michael J. Zak Professor for China and Asia-Pacific Studies in the Department of Government (A&S).

Ray Jayawardhana, the Harold Tanner Dean and Hans A. Bethe Professor in A&S, will moderate the discussion.

The event is part of the college’s Arts Unplugged series, which brings research and creative works into the public sphere for discussion and inspiration.

“The war in Ukraine has precipitated reverberations across Eurasia and around the world,” Jayawardhana said. “We are honored to have these leading journalists and eminent scholars on campus to discuss how international relations, security and trade are shifting in monumental ways.”

The event will include insights from each speaker, followed by time for discussion between the panelists and then time for questions from the audience.

“The war in Ukraine has reinforced the resurgence of great-power competition, fragmented global supply chains and shattered Europe’s sense of security,” Simmons said. “It’s also exposed Europe’s vulnerability in its reliance on Russian energy. I’m looking forward to our panel discussion on these and other issues and to assessing whether the changes and challenges triggered by the conflict are now irreversible.”

Simmons served in Moscow for Time Magazine in the 1990s, where she reported on the aborted coup against then-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and the ascension of Russia’s President Boris Yeltsin. She then moved to Time’s Washington D.C. bureau, where her first beat was as a diplomatic correspondent. Later, Simmons joined the Los Angeles Times as bureau chief in Nairobi and Johannesburg and was part of a team that won a 2004 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news for its coverage of wildfires in Southern California. In her role as Moscow bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal, Simmons covers Russia’s domestic and foreign policy, Moscow’s relationship with Washington, and life in the former Soviet state under the authoritarian leadership of President Vladimir Putin.

Landler, in his three decades at the New York Times, has served as bureau chief in Hong Kong and Frankfurt, White House correspondent, diplomatic correspondent and European economic correspondent. He won an Overseas Press Club prize in 2007 for his work on a series about China and the environment. He is the author of “Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the Twilight Struggle over American Power,” which was named a best book of the year by the Financial Times.

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Sample Prewrite Single speaker event:


Hans Bethe Lecture to illuminate black hole paradox

Black holes are paradoxically both the simplest and most complex objects in the universe, as shown by the still-mysterious set of laws Stephen Hawking discovered a half-century ago. Resolving this paradox is a central goal of modern physics. In the fall 2021 Hans Bethe Lecture, physicist Andrew Strominger will describe the compelling progress made towards this goal as well as future prospects for our understanding of black holes.

The talk, “Probing the Edges of the Universe: Black Holes, Horizons and Strings,” will take place Wednesday, Oct. 27, at 7:30 p.m. in the David Call Alumni Auditorium, Kennedy Hall. The talk is open only to the Cornell community; the public is invited to participate via the CornellCast Livestream.

“Black holes are formed when a collapsing star creates a region of spacetime that is so strongly curved, even light cannot escape,“ said Thomas Hartman, faculty organizer and associate professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences. “They provide an incredible window into astrophysics and into fundamental properties of the universe. Professor Strominger invented much of the modern theory of black holes, and in this lecture, he will describe some of the excitement surrounding them."

Strominger is the Gwill E. York Professor of Physics at Harvard University and a founding member of the Black Hole Initiative. A renowned theoretical physicist, he has made significant contributions to classical and quantum gravity, quantum field theory and string theory. In his most recent work, Strominger discovered an exact equivalence unifying three disparate phenomena that have been separately studied for the last half-century: quantum field theory soft theorems, asymptotic symmetries and the memory effect. This equivalence has deep implications for infrared phenomena ranging from quantum electrodynamics to the black hole information paradox.

Among his many awards, Strominger has received the 2017 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, the 2016 Dannie Heineman Prize from the American Physical Society, the 2014 Oskar Klein Medal from the Swedish Royal Academy and the 2014 Dirac Medal from the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The American Physical Society, the National Academy of Science and a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows.

As part of the Hans Bethe Lecture series, Strominger will give a physics colloquium, “Memory, Soft Theorems and the Symmetries of Nature,” Oct. 25 at 4 p.m. in Schwartz Auditorium, and a theory seminar, “The Holographic Principle in Flat Space,” Oct. 26 at 4 p.m., in 401 Physical Sciences Building. These lectures are open only to the Cornell community.

The Hans Bethe Lecture series, established by the Department of Physics and the College of Arts and Sciences, honors Bethe, Cornell professor of physics from 1936 until his death in 2005. Bethe won the 1967 Nobel Prize in physics for his description of the nuclear processes that power the sun.