News Release (also called press release): The first press release was issued by Ivy Lee in 1906 for the Pennsylvania Railroad. Today, it is still the most common used PR tactic. This is a simple document with the primary purpose of getting information to the mass media (newspapers, broadcast stations, and magazines,etc.)

The Wall Street Journal admits that “a good 50%” of the stories in the newspapers come from news releases.  

Why does the media rely on news releases?

  • Today, journalist spend most of their time processing information, not gathering it
  • Staffing, there are not enough people to cover ever single event taking place in the community. PR people are the newspapers “unpaid reporters”

News releases are judged soely on the newsworthiness, timeliness, interest to the readers, and other traditional news values.

When Planning a news release, a number of questions should be answered:

  • What is the key message? (one sentence) 
  • Who is the primary audience?  (affects where release is sent, daily newspapers or a trade magazine)
  • What does the target audience gain from the product of service? (potential benefits or rewards)
  • What objectives does the release serve?

The news release is written like a news story, the inverted pyramid. A summary of the most important part of the story is at the top nad the following paragraphs descend in order of importance/urgency. This is because your story may be chopped in half. Either by reports who need so many words, or readers who get bored after the first few paragraphs.

Difference between internet press releases and tradition include:

  1. Traditional, mailed out press releases, are double spaced on an 8.5×11.
  2. A news release sent via e-mail is single spaced.
  3. Online news release usually list the contents at the end, not the top. 

B.L. Ochman, writer for The Strategist suggest  “[thinking] of the electronic news release as a teaser to get a reporter or editor to your Web site for additional information.”

* Two major newswires online are: Business Wire and Newswire. Each transmits about 18,000 news releases monthly to media outlets. 

Mat feature release: Different from a traditional news release because a feature angle is usually used instead of a lead that gives a key message. They can be distributed in a variety of forms including word documents, jpeg, and pdfs. 

The concept is to provide helpful consumer information and tips about a variety of subject in an informative way with only a brief mention of the company that has distributed the release.mat-releases21

Media Alerts (also called Media Advisories): The PR staff, on occasion, will send a memo to reporters and editors about a news conference or upcoming event that they may with to cover, intended to inform or alert.

They can be sent with an accompanying news release or by themselves. 140635140_694ede9f38

Fact Sheets: Distributed to the media a part if a media kit or with the news release to give additional background information about the product, person, service, or event. 

*usually prepared for major events and new product launches.2168376558_c07ecbac48_m

One to two pages. Should provide to journalist:

  1. organizations full name
  2. products or services offered
  3. its annual revenues (not always offered if private)
  4. number of employees
  5. the names and one-paragraph bio of top executives
  6. the markets served
  7. position in the industry
  8. any other pertinent detials

*usually found in media kit. 

*this always needs be accessible, have several copies in several ways. 

Media Kits (also called Press Kits): Purpose is to give editors and reporters a variety of information and resources that make is easier for the reporter to write about the topic. 

Basic elements of a media kit:2596442971_8732450f3d

  1. the main news releases
  2. a news feature about the development of the product or something similar
  3. fact sheets on the product, organization, or event 
  4. background information
  5. photos and drawings with captions
  6. biographical material on the spokesperson or chief executives
  7. some basic brochures

Pitch: a short letter or note written by a PR practitioner or publicist to an editor to try and grab their attention.

Usually attached to the media kit and lets the editor know, in brief form, about the program

*this is used because of the difficulty in getting the attention of the media gatekeepers due to the hundreds of news releases and media kits received weekly.






Wilcox, D.L. & Cameron, G.T. (2009). Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics (9th Edition). Boston: Allyn & Bacon