A news release (also known as a press release, media release, or press statement) is a written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something claimed as having news value. News releases are the most used tools in the field of public relations. Sometimes news releases are sent for the purpose of announcing news conferences, at which other communications tools are used to reinforce a central theme or message. They are often included in a media kit.
News release" has come to be preferred in the public relations profession because the object is to create "news," and is supposed to be "news-worthy." The term "press release," while better known, merely denotes the intended recipients of the release, "the press." In fact, the intended recipient is the readers and viewers of various media. The press mere conveys the news release to them.
Typically, releases are mailed, e-mailed or faxed to assignment editors at newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television stations, and/or television networks. Commercial newswire services like www.pressat.co.uk prnewswire.com are also used to distribute news releases, and they are also released to online news outlets like The Drudge Report or even to influential blogs. Releases can also be posted directly on a corporate Website or company-run blog, which targets their message to current customers or those Internet users who interested in the company's products or services.
A news release differs from a news article in significant ways. A news article is a compilation of facts developed by journalists published in the news media, whereas a news release is designed to be sent to journalists in order to encourage them to develop articles on the subject of the release. A news release is also generally biased towards the objectives of the author.
However, a news release does follow the general outlines of a news story, answering the questions "who, what, where, when, why and how." In rare cases, editors and reporters will use most or all of the actual text in the news release as the basis for a published news story. But often, a reporter will follow up with the contact person named in the relase
- Headline - Usually in bold-faced type, sometimes all CAPS. Short, punchy, eye-catching and relevant.
- Contact(s) information - Name, title, address, phone and e-mail contact information on the person or persons the sender wants the media to contact for more information, if needed.
- Release date - Almost always "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE," but in rare cases, "EMBARGOED UNTIL XXXX(date)."
- The body of the release - Using news story format.
- Closing with "-30-" or Three ### symbols. These are traditional news designations that tell the recipient that the release has no further pages.
While the basic format of the news release has typically been on paper, in recent years, e-mailing releases - either as Microsoft Word documents, Adobe .PDF files, or simply in the body of the e-mail as plain text, has become very common.
Other popular forms of news releases are:
- Video News Releases - for use on local or network television stations. (However, their use is controverial, since the media's use of them is not usually labeled as coming from an outside source. In 2004, the U.S. government was criticized for creating "faked" news programs that were used without attribution as government-made.)
- Audio News Releases - historically on audio tape, and for radio stations, but now on CD-ROMs and even in new formats, such as .wav and .mp3 audio files.
- Be brief.
- Use news story format.
- Follow-up after sending the release to a media outlet.
- Some newsrooms prefer to not receive attachments to email, citing concerns for viruses. Check before you send attachments (even MS Word.docs.)
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