Updated: Oct 30, 2018
There are a number of different ways to lay out a press release, so while I don't like to say there is only one way to do them, it is good to point out that some formats are definitely better than others. Also, there are certain elements that you absolutely must include in order to create a professional looking press release that the press won't throw out immediately.
Here's a quick breakdown of how a solid press release should be laid out with an example of an alternative layout that might be better suited to those writing press releases for art project.
Basic Layout Example - This is the layout I prefer for a straight forward press release which does not require visuals and is not about a time-sensitive event. I've included labels to show not only the visual layout, but where you should consider placing information in the body of the document.
Event Layout Example - This is an example of a layout you can use if you are writing a press release for a time-sensitive event such as an exhibit or a theatrical production. The information should flow as the labels above show. The main difference is how you include the pertinent dates and times so that the are easily seen. Gallery press releases can tend to be too busy because people are trying to crunch images and show info into a small space, so remember to focus on one great representative image and format your dates and times in the most concise way possible.
I found this one from Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago and felt that it was a clean and visually appealing layout (the only exception is that I would make it even a little cleaner, by moving the line directing people to website for more event information and the gallery times to the end of the press release in a paragraph with general information about the gallery).
Please feel free to share any great press releases you have written or seen - it's always great to have more examples!