A press release is a document delivered to members of the media for the purpose of sharing an official statement, making an announcement, or enticing a journalist or media outlet to look further into a topic. A press release can summarize the results of your Cochrane Review in a way that pulls out the content that is newsworthy and relevant for the media. Press releases are a good tool to attract journalists' attention when you have a topic that is of broad appeal and your review presents new evidence.
How to write a press release
There are certain criteria that make a Cochrane Review appropriate for a press release:
The quality of the review, quality of the evidence and its complexity. You should be able to explain the evidence in around 800 words to a non-scientific reader for it to be appropriate for a press release.
- Your Cochrane Review should have a consumer focus and/or broad appeal as a topic. The media should also be interested in the topic.
If you think a press release might be helpful for your review, then you can work with a press officer from your own institution or from Cochrane. A press officer can help you judge the newsworthiness of your Cochrane review. The press officer can also help determine your review’s potential to be summarized into 600-800 words maximum. If you work with the press office in your own institution, you must still contact Cochrane so that we are aware that a press release is being shared with the media. You can contact the Cochrane press office through emailing email@example.com. Ideally the Cochrane press office needs one month minimum advance notice to generate a press release. However, you can contact the press office at any point in the editorial process if you believe you have a Cochrane review that is suitable for a press release.
A journalist receives hundreds of press releases a day so it is best to assess carefully whether you have a strong news line before going through the trouble of creating a press release. It is also advisable to consider:
Consider who this press release will go to, and if you or your press office have access to those contacts.
The newsworthiness of what the press release says. What is new about the evidence? What does it tell people that they didn’t know before?
- Be careful not to overstate the evidence for the sake of a strong headline. Section 5 of this guide from STEMPRA is a good resource on how to communicate responsibly.
Top tip! Once you have a draft of your press release, use the dissemination checklist to improve the draft.
You do not always need a press release to contact journalists, you can email them directly, saying why you think the review is newsworthy and sharing the Plain Language Summary. This one-to-one outreach can be very effective. Your host institution or the Cochrane press office could help you with this or do it for you. There is guidance on this in our section on how to write targeted emails.
Press releases in different languages
Cochrane’s press office will organize the translation of your press release into multiple languages. This site gives guidance on how to translate press releases.
If your host university has created the press release, you might like to ask them what the opportunity is for translation.
Sharing your press release
We suggest you work with the Cochrane press officer or your host institution to establish if a news embargo is needed for your press release. Having a gap between when the press release goes out to journalists and when the Cochrane review publishes (this will coincide with the embargo lifting on the press release) is the best way to maximise chances of strong media coverage. Using an embargo can be confusing – but press officers know how to work with these. You can contact the Cochrane press office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A press release is nothing without good media contacts. The Cochrane press office subscribes to a database of media contacts around the world. We also keep an up-to-date list of global media contacts, including journalists who have asked to be kept abreast of Cochrane news. For more information, contact email@example.com. Your host institution will also keep details of good media contacts.
You can also share your press release more widely through social media. For more information on social media platforms and how to use them effectively, visit this page.
To share your press release using the Cochrane Central social media accounts, including the Comms Network Digest, contact Muriah Umoquit (firstname.lastname@example.org). Visit this page to learn more about the Cochrane Central communications channels.
Examples of press releases from Cochrane groups
Nutritional labeling for healthier food or non-alcoholic drink purchasing and consumption (Cochrane Public Health Group)
New Cochrane review assesses the benefits and harms of exercise for preventing falls in older people living in the community (Cochrane Bone, Joint and Muscle Trauma Group)
HPV vaccination to prevent cervical cancer (Cochrane Gynaecological, Neuro‐oncology and Orphan Cancer Group)
Omega‐3 fatty acids for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease (Cochrane Heart Group)