How to Write Bad News in Press Release
There's really no good way to deliver bad news. When the bad news is something the general public needs to know about, such as the death of a celebrity or a national crisis, a press release is often required. Delivering bad news through a press release is often difficult, but with a little planning and effective use of tact, you can write a press release that will frame the bad news in the best possible light.
Follow standard press release format. This means placing the headline in title case. The headline should state the bad news succinctly and without being ambiguous. If someone has died, the headline may read: "Joe Schmoe, Known for His Role in the TV Series "That's Life," Is Found Dead in His Hotel Room at the Age of 100." The news is bad, but it still needs to be delivered in a straightforward manner.
Follow the headline with a summary, which should begin with the city and date of the press release, followed by three of four sentences, with the lead sentence containing the most important information. The lead sentence should restate the headline. The following sentences should summarize the known events leading up to the news you're delivering. The first paragraph is the focal point for delivering the news as you know it. Don't try to sugarcoat anything.
Write one or two paragraphs after the lead that focus on something more positive. If the press release is about the death of a famous person, you've used the opening paragraph to deliver the news. Focus on the famous person's life achievements in the next paragraph or two.
Close the press release with any additional information that will help the public respond to the press release. In the case of the death of someone famous, this may be arrangements for the funeral or when any public statements will be made by friends or relatives.
Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.