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Why the Press Release?

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By Alexi Turbow |February 27, 2014

Big newsSure you’ve heard of it, but what exactly is a press release? What is its purpose and how do you write one? How do you go about distributing this document once it’s been written? These questions are all going to be answered over the course of my next few posts.

At the heart of the matter is what is a press release and why do we create one? According to Collins English Dictionary, a press release can be defined as: an official announcement or account of a news item circulated to the press.  That’s only sort of helpful.

What is a press release?

To further explain, think of it like this: when your organization has something newsworthy to share with the world, for example a groundbreaking study your association is publishing, you would draft a press release to disseminate this information to media that would be the most likely to cover this study.

One thing to keep in mind about a press (also known as news) release is that that it needs to be a newsworthy story. Here are some elements to making sure your release is newsworthy:

  • Timeliness: You want to ensure that your story contains new information and will not be old news by the time the media receives your release.
  • Impact: The story detailed within the release should affect the journalist’s audience.
  • Uniqueness: Your story should be different from other stories that could be considered similar.
  • Conflict: There should be some sort of clash between people and/or forces (potentially nature).
  • Proximity: Your story should have the ability to be localized to the target audience of the journalist’s you reach out to.
  • Celebrity: If applicable, including a celebrity of some sort will be a sure way to draw more attention to your story.

I’ll delve further into the varying aspects that need to be included in a release in my next post, and show you how to take it from good to great.

Why a press release?

To answer this second question, the simple answer is: it’s the best way to distribute a story you want the media to pick up on your organization. Sure there are other ways to get a story out, but the press release allows you to give more detailed information and craft the angle you would like the media to represent when telling your story. The ideal scenario is one where the outlet you send the release to republishes at least part, if not all, of your release; however, republishing press releases word-for-word is extremely rare.

I hope this has cleared up any uncertainty on what a press release is and why we use them. In my next post, Part 2, I’ll address how to craft a release. If you would like to know anything else on releases, or have suggestions on other media-related items you would like to know more about, please be sure to use the comments section below!

Alexi Turbow
Why the Press Release?

Alexi Turbow is an account executive at one of the world's largest public relations firms. She currently works in health PR where she manages accounts ranging from health technology to big pharma. Previously she worked at U.S. News & World Report as the communications relations coordinator and formerly worked at the United States Tennis Association. Alexi has a Bachelors of Arts from the Indiana University School of Journalism. She enjoys travel, baking and cheering on the Hoosiers in basketball. Disclaimer: Alexi works at Edelman. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are her own.

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