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What is a Press Release?

Press Release Basics: What Are Press Releases and What is Their Purpose?

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Before you start writing press releases, it is important that you understand what a press release is the purpose a press release serves.

What is a Press Release?

A press release is a written communication reporting specific, but brief information about an event, circumstance, or other happening typically tied to a business or organization.

Press releases should always be written in the third person.

Press releases are provided to the media through a variety of means, but are not always picked up by news media. However, if you are lucky, they may still be picked up by bloggers, Twitterers, and others who read it and find it worthy of promoting within their own social networks.

Two Basic Types of Press Releases

Some press releases are available for "immediate release." This means anyone can repeat the information as soon as the release is made public. Other press releases may have time limits that allow only certain media sources to repeat them immediately, and at a later time, are offered to other news services or websites, blog owners, etc. for publication.

The Main Purpose of a Press Release

There is a difference between "news" and "press releases." Although the differences are not as clear as they once were in pre-Internet days, media professionals do understand the difference.

The main purpose of all press releases is to promote something specific, like an event, accomplishment, or significant changes or happenings.

A press release serves three marketing and promotional purposes:

  1. To let the media know about an event (in hopes that will pass the information along);

  2. To let the media know about your business in hopes a reported will see a story in your press release and write an actual news article; and
  3. To help promote your business' appearance on the Internet (direct readership publicity) via blogs, websites, social networks, etc.

What a Press Release is Not

A press release is not a fact-filled news article. In fact, press releases should not be written as any type of news article or feature.

A press release is not a guaranteed marketing tool. In other words, just because you put out a press release, do not expect it to always be picked up and passed along by mainstream media sources.

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