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What is a press release?

What is a press release?

A press release, also referred to as a media statement or news release, is a brief news story written by a public relations professional and distributed to a broad range of media outlets.

  • When writing a press release, the language employed should be clear, precise and error-free. Press releases should be very readable: overly formal or unnecessarily flowery language should be avoided.
  • A press release is not simply a marketing tool to help companies boost sales. Rather, it is a fact-based news article that should answer the “5W1H questions” (who, what, when, where, why and how) in its first paragraph. 
  • The key message of a press release, which is typically conveyed in its headline and subhead, should be written in an engaging manner so as to pique the interest of members of the media or other target audiences.

A press release is a communications tool used to convey information to news outlets about a particular subject. Ideally, these outlets will publish the information provided. Frequently used in a public-relations context, press releases are generally intended to raise awareness about the subject among a particular target audience. They can also be used to raise brand awareness or increase the online visibility of a company or individual. Press releases often come in the form of alerts posted on social media.

Basic characteristics of a press release

  • Press releases are quite short, typically consisting of a single page (between 350 and 500 words). Anything more than this is generally considered too long.
  • They are generally used to provide information about a particular subject or to make important announcements to a target audience.
  • Press releases are not intended to serve as advertisements, and should be both objective and facts-based. Therefore, overtly subjective words or phrases should be meticulously avoided. 
  • These simple-but-effective types of communication typically follow a standard press release format or press release template.

The purpose of a press release

A press release is a news article or news story distributed to journalists, editors and/or other media contacts to inform them about a particular subject with a view to raising that subject’s media profile. In a well-written press release, the subject (such as an organization, entity, small business or brand) will be well-represented and its message conveyed, clearly, concisely and objectively. Since a press release is not about boosting corporate sales, consumer-focused language should not be employed. Ultimately, press releases are intended to convey newsworthy information, such as upcoming events, personnel changes, new corporate strategies, etc. Good press release distribution should ensure that the information is sent to the most important and relevant media outlets with the aim of reaching as many readers as possible.

Press releases can be regularly distributed to members of the media on a weekly or monthly basis. They are often used to raise awareness about an important upcoming event, in hopes of drawing members of the press and/or other target audiences. Since press releases are essentially news articles, they should adhere to basic journalistic principles of objectivity. The text should contain newsworthy information about new trends, upcoming events, or any other important development that might be of interest to the target audience. They should be written in a style so as to attract the reader’s attention (especially that of journalists and editors) and should always contain information not available elsewhere.

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