Media Training: How to Write Press Releases

Milwaukee IWOC Media Training

IWOC members can obtain copy of video recording of 3/23/20 press release training, contact to request this.

  1. How to give an interview
  1. Make sure you know the purpose of the interview
  2. Respond twice: once using a pithy statement and then, the 2nd time, with more details
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for paraphrasing the question
  4. Don’t be afraid to turn the question into one that would allow you to say what you want.
  1. Press releases.

Journalists are selective, they like pieces that potentially may increase their readership. They also like to be the first in unveiling something. Our goals are not always the same. We can select the journalists to work with and develop a relationship. That takes time. Alternatively, we can spread the information widely and see who responds, and how. The list of media contact is here,

  1. When you have information, make sure you understand the message, the thing you want the journalists to drive home:
    1. Something happened, you want them to investigate
    2. Something happened, you want them to report
    3. You want them to get in touch with you and/or your contacts
    4. You want someone to print the press-release as is
    5. Other
  1. Not every issue will resonate. But you can still send a press release if you want the press to be informed.
  1. Practice. You received the following letter. What will be the message of your press-release?

One of my closest friends at CCI died last nite  of a over dose of heroin no doubt,

his drug of choice, for the last,40-years… He was from The windy City…we had nothing in common, save our love for our people, and knowledge of the struggle

For our people. I knew him for 5-years, we took several psychology courses together the last,was 26-weeks!last year.I have begged him to get clean.He just

Could not do it .A couple of years ago they strapped him down,did a cavity search

And found dope,and charged him with introduction of narcotics. He had 19-more

Years to do. 


The other death that took place, was a white cat name Carlyle, in his 40-s,he was

In a wheel chair on the bottom floor, but was able to climb 2-flights of stairs in

Front of 30-inmates, and 3-cops and jump head first to his death.You can not unsee death that happens before you.and if Secretary Kevin Clark was more than

A bootlicking,seat warming, uncle Tom, heads would have rolled already.

I feel really powerless, right now…I haven’t ate in 5-days,after 3-days,I should’ve

Been taken to HSU,weighed, vitals,blood drawn, and urine collected. But nothing

They don’t care.I have been laying down to preserve my energy, but it aggravates

My back keep up the pressure comrades!

Possible message(s):

  1. Parts of a press release:

HEADER: your organization

Contact info (email, phone or both)


The main message of this press release, a short ¨hook¨

MILWAUKEE, WIS. – date – the summary of the information 

The rest of the information

End with some version of your main message and a slogan, if any, or something to draw the readers to your webpage to know more about this issue.

FOOTER: Contact information

  1. Before you are done, make sure you know where to send journalists who will call. Who will be the primary and the secondary contact for this press-release? Can we use names of inside contacts? Whom exactly? Can journalists reach them in Corrlinks or over the phone?
  1. Where and how to send a press release:
  • Use IWOC’s email address
  • Gmail only sends a message to 130 or so addresses at a time.
    • Copy 130 addresses, put them in bcc tab (THIS IS IMPORTANT)
  • Add Frank Little (IWOC´s alias) as main addressee
  • Copy and paste the text of the press release in the body of the message
  • Add a .pdf version as attachment
  • Send.
  • Repeat with the next batches of 130 addresses.
  • Some addresses are changing without us keeping up. You can clean the media contacts list. Others will send you an automated response. Ignore those.
  • Make sure the contact phone is working and keep an eye on the email. Some journalists call, others write.

Here is an example of a press released written, from the preceding information. If you’re taking this training, read this only after you’ve practiced writing the message and the press release, then compare it with this example.


Following a public suicide by one incarcerated individual on January 15, 2020 and the death of another, a hunger strike is announced at Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI, Portage, WI) to demand medical attention to people who need it most badly.

MILWAUKEE, WIS. – January 23, 2020 – IWOC-Milwaukee received from CCI and verified information about a public suicide committed in front of 30 people last week and a death due to drug overdose. These deaths follow the loss of another incarcerated person in December 2019. After a long lockdown, Columbia Correctional has never returned to “normal” operation. People are not receiving medical attention that they badly need. 

Having been denied medical care and in response to the suffering inflicted on all people incarcerated in CCI, Damani Nantambu (#594586) has begun a hunger strike demanding urgent attention to the medical needs of CCI population. Mr. Nantambu suffers from several documented medical conditions, including a kidney cyst, a prostate infection, eye problems and irregular heartbeat. Due to his urethra condition, he has been prescribed medical showers, which he has not received since September. Gluten-intolerant, he has no access to gluten-free food.

A recent report from Northeastern University School of Law entitled “Treating Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders in Correctional Settings” underscores the role of correctional institutions as “de-facto national substance use and mental health safety net” (Source: SSRN). This is also true of medical attention to physical ailments, which many incarcerated individuals fail to receive. Correctional facilities thus only inflict further suffering, failing to provide medical care and merely adopting punishment measures when it becomes too late to prevent suicide and death. 

Columbia Correctional Institution is a case in point. After a long lockdown in November, restriction on recreational activities and movement continue, as medical attention staff has been cut. This has severe physical and mental health consequences on people, who respond using the only means that they have.

To learn more about the situation at CCI, contact or call 4146307507. To do a wellness check on Damani Nantambu (#594586), call Lucas Weber, Columbia’s security director, call (608) 742-9100 extension 9145 and write to,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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An injury to one is an injury to all