how to format a dateline in press releases

Due to COVID-19’s effect on business operations around the world, many businesses are currently sending out press releases to notify local media and consumers about impending changes.

If your business is experiencing changes due to coronavirus – or you wish to notify consumers about preventative steps your operation is taking for employee and patron health – now is the time to start crafting and sending press releases. You can send these releases directly to local media outlets, use a distribution service such as PR Web, and/or post them directly on your own website and social media channels.

how to write a coronavirus press release

All press releases should start with a quick instruction line and date:


Next, put the name, phone number, and email address for a contact person at your company. This is the person who should be fielding calls from the press or public about the contents of your press release. If I was going to write a press release, here’s how it would look:

March 18, 2020

Contact: Emily Gertenbach
Phone: 484-840-3104

You’ll want to start your press release with a dateline that lists your location. For example:

LANCASTER, Pa. – In light of current world events….

After the dateline, fill in your content. It’s a good idea to explain WHY you are writing the release (business changes due to COVID-19), HOW this will affect the reader, WHAT you are doing to mitigate risk, and WHEN the changes go into effect or end.

It’s always nice to include a quote from a trusted figure at the company. Make your press release between two and three paragraphs long.

Finish your press release with three pound/hashtag symbols centered on a line by themselves. This indicates the release content is complete:


If you are including any photos with your release, you can provide information about the photo content after this point.

formatting your dateline

The dateline is one of the trickiest parts of a press release because it uses different formatting than we are used to seeing on maps or mail. Depending on where your business is located, you’ll either use your city name or a combination of your city/state/territory name.

To make this easier, I’ve put together a cheat sheet that breaks it down for you! Simply follow the steps one by one and you’ll have a dateline that is compliant with current AP Style guidelines.

AP style dateline cheat sheet

Download a PDF copy of the "How to Format a Dateline" guide for FREE here.