Tips for Writing a Press Release (and Prewrite)

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What Is a Press Release?

A press release is a short (300-500 word) communication for media containing news of interest to their audiences. (A prewrite is essentially the same thing as a press release, but is posted on a Cornell platform rather than sent to media.)

What Can a Press Release Do for You?

  • A good press release, distributed at least two weeks before an event, can get you free publicity in local newspapers and radio.
  • Your event will also be more likely to get attention in the Cornell Chronicle, as the Chronicle editors may use your release as a “prewrite” which runs before an event.
  • And even if you can’t write a complete press release, or a polished one, the more of a press release 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 press release or prewrite 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.

See examples of lead sentences, details, etc. 

​Five Things NOT to Include in a 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 Press Release Multi-speaker event:




Contact: Linda Glaser

Phone: (607) 255-8942


Ferguson and Its Aftermath to Be Examined at Cornell Forum

ITHACA, NY – The killing of an unarmed Michael Brown on August 9 has triggered a national dialogue of passion and protest. On Wednesday, September 10, at 4:30pm the Cornell Africana Studies and Research Center and Cornell Law School will hold a forum to examine some of the reasons for – and the consequences of – that killing. The event is free and open to the public, and will take place in the Africana Studies and Research Center Multipurpose Room, 310 Triphammer Rd, Ithaca.

Forum participant Travis Gosa, a social scientist who is an assistant professor of Africana Studies at Cornell, has researched and written about the social and cultural worlds of African-American youth. He notes that research shows that “awareness of racial inequality doesn’t seem to motivate white Americans to support policies that address police violence – it can have the opposite effect, while media reports of blacks rioting and looting can reinforce stereotypes of black criminality.”

“We know that what happened to Michael Brown was not a unique incident but part of a larger phenomenon—and that it will happen again, soon,” wrote forum participant Lanre Akinsiku in an editorial for The Gawker. Akinsiku is a student in Cornell’s MFA Program in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The third forum member, Joe Margulies, is Visiting Professor of Government and Law at Cornell’s Law School. He has been a civil rights and criminal defense lawyer, who has worked on police shootings in both the civil and criminal contexts.

The forum will be moderated by Noliwe Rooks, associate professor of Africana Studies and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Cornell.

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Sample Press Release Single speaker event:




Contact: Linda Glaser

Phone: (607) 255-8942


Cornell Lecture: Path to Full Gender Equality

ITHACA, NY -- As the gender roles of women and men have increasingly converged, women have made dramatic gains in the labor market. Yet, full equality continues to elude us. What has to change for there to be equality between men and women in the labor market? Renowned scholar Claudia Goldin will answer the question in a Sesquicentennial talk entitled "A Grand Gender Convergence: Its Last Chapter," on October 23 at 4:30 pm in Cornell’s Lewis Auditorium in Goldwin Smith Hall.

“Professor Goldin is one of the preeminent scholars of gender in the world,” says Francine Blau, Frances Perkins Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Professor of Economics. “She has penetrating insights to offer on what is necessary to write this ‘last chapter’ in gender convergence.”

“Claudia Goldin's work is central to inquiry into economic inequality in the United States,” adds Richard Miller, Wyn and William Y. Hutchinson Professor in Ethics and Public Life and Director of the Program on Ethics and Public Life. “Cornell's Sesquicentennial celebrations will be an extremely apt setting for this lecture by a distinguished Cornell alumna, illuminating trends in women's and men's work-lives that are of great ethical and personal importance.”

Goldin is the Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard University and director of the Development of the American Economy program at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Her historical work on women in the U.S. economy has been extremely wide-ranging and influential, says Miller. Her most recent work looks at the rise of mass education in the United States and its impact on economic growth and wage inequality, as well as a project on the family and career transitions of male and female graduates of selective universities from the late 1960s to the present.

She is the author and editor of many books, including “Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women” and “The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century.” Her most recent book, coauthored with Lawrence Katz, is “The Race between Education and Technology,” winner of the 2008 R.R. Hawkins Award for the most outstanding scholarly work in all disciplines of the arts and sciences.

Goldin received her B.A. from Cornell and her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. In 2009 she was awarded the Mincer Prize for life-time contributions to the field of labor economics from the Society of Labor Economists. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and she is currently president of the American Economic Association.

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Sample Media Advisory




Vietnam War-era activists gather to recall their resistance, 50 years later

WHAT: Vietnam: The War at Cornell
WHEN: Monday, Nov. 10 and Tuesday, Nov. 11.
WHERE: Goldwin Smith Hall and Uris Hall, Cornell campus

ITHACA, N.Y. – Twenty-five veteran activists of the Ithaca area’s resistance to the Vietnam War will converge on Cornell’s campus for a 50th reunion on Nov. 10-11, as part of the College of Arts and Sciences’ celebration of the university’s sesquicentennial. The activists, from the Ithaca community as well as from Cornell, will recall their cataclysmic resistance to the Vietnam War, when they occupied buildings, held protests, scheduled teach-ins, destroyed draft cards and pushed for civil and women’s rights. The public is invited to participate and all events are free.

“Vietnam: The War at Cornell” will include:

“Race and Cornell Protest in the 1960s,” a forum, Nov. 10, 4:30 p.m., Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall

Teach-In, featuring alumni and community members from the Vietnam era, Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m., Uris Hall Auditorium

“Gender and Cornell Protest in the 1960s,” a forum, Nov. 11, 4:30 p.m., Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium, Goldwin Smith

For additional details please see

Contact: Linda Glaser
Phone: (607) 255-8942

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.

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Press Release Template for Departments





Contact: Name of person who will handle media inquiries

Phone: (607) Phone number for media to call

E-Mail: Email for media to use




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