Press Release
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Press Release, news release, media release, press statement or video release is a written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something ostensibly newsworthy. 

Typically, Press Releases are mailed, faxed, or e-mailed to assignment editors and journalists at newspapers, magazines, radio stations, online media, television stations or television networks or distributed via a newswire service.

The first modern Press Releases were created by Ivy Lee. Lee's agency was working with the Pennsylvania Railroad at the time of the 1906 Atlantic City train wreck. Ivy Lee and the company collaborated to issue the first Press Release directly to journalists, before other versions of the story, or suppositions, could be spread among them and reported. He used a Press Release, in addition to inviting journalists and photographers to the scene as a means of fostering open communication with the media. Public relations pioneer Edward Bernays later refined the creation and use of Press Releases.

Technically, anything deliberately sent to a reporter or media source is considered a Press Release: it is information released by the act of being sent to the media. However, public relations professionals often follow a standard format that they believe is efficient and increases their odds of getting the publicity they desire. The format is supposed to help journalists separate Press Releases from other PR communication methods, such as pitch letters or media advisories. Generally, a PR body consists of 4 to 5 paragraphs with word limit ranging from 400 to 500. 

As the internet has gained prevalence the way journalists like to be approached has also changed. A format suggested by Kristen Nicole, a former Mashable writer who is now the Senior Managing Editor of SiliconANGLE.com. says, "I’d recommend pitching the writer first, with an angle specific to their beat. If a case needs to be made to the editor, it can fare better coming from the writer, who’s already had an opportunity to work out an angle with the PR rep. As an editor, I’m more likely to prioritize emails coming from those I have personal relationships with. These have been built over the years from the days when I was the writer presenting to my editors. Starting a new relationship with me as an editor, the most successful pitches have been those offering high profile interviews (editors that still write columns will want to take these for themselves before passing them off to junior writers) or highly specific content, like an original guest contribution." 

Some Of These Common Structural Elements Include:

  • Headline – Used to grab the attention of journalists and briefly summarize the news.
  • Dateline – Contains the release date and usually the originating city of the Press Release. If the date listed is after the date that the information was actually sent to the media, then the sender is requesting a news embargo, which journalists are under no obligation to honor.
  • Introduction – First paragraph in a Press Release, that generally gives basic answers to the questions of who, what, when, where and why.
  • Body – Further explanation, statistics, background, or other details relevant to the news.
  • Boilerplate – Generally a short "about" section, providing independent background on the issuing company, organization, or individual.
  • Close – In North America, traditionally the symbol "-30-" appears after the boilerplate or body and before the media contact information, indicating to media that the release has ended. A more modern equivalent has been the "###" symbol. In other countries, other means of indicating the end of the release may be used, such as the text "ends".
  • Media Contact Information – Name, phone number, email address, mailing address, or other contact information for the PR or other media relations contact person.

As the Internet has assumed growing prominence in the news cycle, Press Release writing styles have necessarily evolved. Editors of online newsletters, for instance, often lack the staff to convert traditional Press Release prose into more readable, print-ready copy. Today's Press Releases are therefore often written as finished articles which deliver more than just bare facts. A stylish, journalistic format along with perhaps a provocative story line and quotes from principals can help ensure wider distribution among Internet-only publications looking for suitable material.

Distribution Models:

In the traditional distribution model, the business, political campaign, or other entity releasing information to the media hires a publicity agency to write and distribute written information to the newswires. The newswire then disseminates the information as it is received or as investigated by a journalist.

An alternative is the self-published Press Release. In this approach, Press Releases are either sent directly to local newspapers or to free and paid distribution services. The distribution service then provides the content, as is, to their media outlets for publication which is usually online.

Writing an effective Press Release involves developing a story idea that's unique, timely and newsworthy. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, news is "any new information" or coverage of "current events," so a Press Release won't pique the interest of journalists unless it contains something truly original or is closely tied to current events.

Several factors can make a story newsworthy. Timeliness is the most important, or else the story wouldn't be "news." 

Also important are the prominence of the people or organization featured in the story, the physical proximity of the story to the intended audience and the "human-interest" angle. 

The next step is to find the specific journalists and media outlets that would be most interested in the story. Journalists typically work a "beat," covering a certain type of news like politics, cars or food. Determine the news area relevant to your idea and send Press Releases to the journalists who cover that beat. Even the best story idea will be ignored, if it's sent to the wrong person.

There are many ways to find the right journalist for your story, and the method you choose will depend on how many people you want to contact. For example, if the story isn't very time-sensitive and mostly of local interest, you could read the local papers and look for reporters who write about similar topics. If the reporter doesn't list his e-mail address, call the paper and ask for it, or have a PR Professional do it for you.

If your story is of national or international interest and timeliness is key, then it makes sense to send the Press Release to as many pertinent media outlets and reporters as possible.

For the past decade, Press Releases have dominated the offsite content field, and for good reason. They come with a great many benefits that make them worth writing, and for more than just SEO:

  • Natural links from multiple outside sources. It’s hard to get quality inbound links. Building them yourself takes a significant amount of time and can result in a search engine penalty if you’re not careful. Writing or producing great content that gets shared virally is difficult as well. But there are plenty of news sources constantly looking for new material to publish, and submitting one Press Release can put you in contact with hundreds of them simultaneously. Each link you earn will be from a separate site, granting you link source diversity in the process. With that said, the links will all be coming from duplicate content, which is likely just as valuable than links from unique content. 

  • High-quality, authoritative sources. These aren’t just any sources, either. While there are a few low-to-average quality drifters that get stuck in the pool of contenders, most of the sites your Press Release will be published are extremely high quality. They are news sites dedicated to publishing high-quality information, and they’ve been around long enough to earn their reputation. Google tends to view these sites favorably, which means a link from one of them is far more valuable than a link from some random blog or forum. Aside from the value of the links, the brand association with these publishers is beneficial for establishing trust and credibility.

  • Opportunities for keyword linking and name recognition. Press Releases, as long as you write them in-house, also give you the key opportunity to associate your company name with relevant keywords and subjects. This increases the likelihood that search queries will result in your business showing up due to co-occurrence and co-citation, as well as the recent semantic search updates to Googles algorithms.

  • Immediate visibility and referral traffic. Press Releases aren’t all about optimizing for search engines. Each news outlet that picks up your Press Release is going to have its own dedicated readership—which means that you’ll have a new set of eyes seeing your brand for the first time for every Press Release that gets published. These users will be reading your Press Release, getting an idea of your business, and if they’re interested, they’ll visit your site—that’s extra referral traffic that serves as icing on the cake.

  • Online Reputation Management. Press Releases that include your brand name in the title tend to rank well in search engines for searches of your brand name. Since you can control the content of a Press Release, this gives you some degree of control over your online reputation (at least as far as what users see when they Google your brand name).

Press Releases are a good strategy. both for external link building for SEO and for improving your brand’s reputation and visibility on the web. However, maintaining a solid Press Release strategy requires the utmost attention to quality and detail, as well as a budget that allows you to afford a suitable distribution.

Press Releases are a quality addition that can boost your authority.  In the coming years, the format, authority, and use of Press Releases may change, but for now, they remain a valuable strategy for online business growth.

Why The Editing Process Is So Important to Your Press Release Success

A well written Press Release can gain media attention for your company. If the story is right, and the news captures the attention of a journalist, your company can reach your marketing goals. 

There’s a process to writing a good Press Release and many steps to take before submitting for distribution. The editing process is one of the most important, second only to making sure you have a newsworthy story.

What is the Editing Process?

First, let’s define the term “editing.” It’s often confused with proofreading. Proofreading is the process of looking for spelling and grammar mistakes. Editing, on the other hand, does look at spelling and grammar, but it also goes deeper. The editing process makes sure that each sentence is clear and written as well as possible. It looks at the format and structure of the Press Release and makes sure that the information flows. A good editor can help identify information gaps and help you make the Press Release better. So when we’re talking about editing, we’re talking about much more than making sure everything is spelled correctly.

Why is it Important?

Credibility matters. Let’s just focus, for a moment, on the simple spelling and grammar errors that are so easy to make. A misspelled word can harm your credibility. Not only is it distracting for the person reading your press release, it tells them that you didn’t care enough about your reputation to have your Press Release well edited. Now, if you take it a step further and talk about a full scale edit of your release, you know that you’re putting your best out in front of media reps.

Telling Your Story

A well edited press release helps you clearly communicate and tell your story. It gives you a fighting chance at getting the media attention you desire for your release. When you put so much time and energy into writing a Press Release, why not make sure that you’re telling your story and sharing your information in the most effective way possible?

What is the Process?

Different editors go through the process differently. Generally speaking, the editing process requires several run throughs. You might look at structure and clarity first, and then once the sentences and paragraphs have been cleaned up you might look at spelling and grammar. Every Press Release needs to go through one final review before it is sent for distribution or pitched to a media representative. Don’t ignore the editing process. If you’re not a good editor then find someone to help you. Your Press Release efforts and reputation are too important to ignore this step.

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