Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What is a Press Release?

Journalism 101

Because I have suddenly become rather busy writing press releases, I thought it might be fun to focus my blog on that subject for a few days. There seems to be no better place to begin than with the simple question, "What is a press release?"

A press release, or news release, is a written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media to announce something newsworthy. It can be mailed, faxed, or sent via internet communications to newspaper editors, magazines, radio and television stations/networks, or even distributed online.

Despite what some may think, a press release is not advertising. It may have the secondary benefit of drawing more business to a company or increasing sales of a product or service, but it is meant only to announce something with true news value, and perhaps increase exposure for the company.

Once the release is received by the chosen form of media, the editor decides whether or not it is newsworthy enough to run and if they have the space to run it in. If they feel it is, there is often a specified date on which the company would like it distributed. For example, time sensitive information, such as an announcement of a conference with related times and dates, might have "For Immediate Release" written to indicate it needs to be announced right away. Conversely, it may be written days, weeks, or even months ahead of the event and distributed on a very specific date.

It absolutely should not be boring. It should be a nicely crafted article that informs the reader of something. And as with any piece of writing, it should always have a headline that grabs your attention - something with a flare that makes the reader keep reading, an important task with all the written competition available these days. You want your reader to take some valuable information away with him.

So there you have it, a brief introduction to what a press release is. My next entry will focus on the stylistic elements of a good press release. Hope to see you back!

Have a wonderful day!


Lillie Ammann said...

I'm intrigued to see you writing about press releases because I have working on a series on the same subject. I haven't finished yet for two reasons: 1) lack of time, and 2) posts like yours that I keep running into that I want to use in mine. I'll wait for the rest of your posts on the subject so I can link to them.

Lisa Vella said...

Thanks so much, Lillie! I hope I have some information that others will find useful here!

Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday!


Matthew C. Keegan said...

This is getting strange. I was just about to cover press releases when I found Lisa's post and then read Lillie's comments.

It seems just this month that the press release side of my business has begun to pick up again. As usual, I have to remind some people that a release is to be newsworthy, not an advertising piece.

Yes, a release can be interesting too. At least is should be if we have any hope of a reporter picking up the release and taking it from there.

Never bore a reporter!

Betsy Henning said...

Thanks Lisa,

Now I get it!

Your phone explanation of press releases was fine, but this is clear as can be.