A frequent debate in online PR and social media circles is whether the essential PR tool, the press release, is under threat of extinction.  We think there is life in the press release for a long time to come as it serves an essential function in distilling information to its core facts.  Its shape and format may change over as online media evolves but a good press release (or news release as we like to call it here) is the essential first point for journalists.  We asked Adrian Weckler of the Sunday Business Post to offer his views on the topic and also to give his guidelines on the press release that will most likely get his attention.

Next week we talk to the team behind The Last Word on Today FM about their insights into what it takes to have your news considered or to be interviewed on the show.

Adrian Weckler is a journalist for The Sunday Business Post, a national Irish broadsheet newspaper. He edits a consumer technology section in the newspaper and also a monthly business technology magazine, Computers In Business.  Adrian also maintains a blog featuring consumer technology reviews, news and opinions as well as pointers and commentary for those in the media industry.  You can find Adrian’s blog at www.yourtechstuff.com

To start the post off we asked Adrian: “Are (well written) news releases still relevant and important to you as
an editor?”

Yes. A well-written press release gets across the key facts (and
context) of a product, a service or a news development.

You’ll hear views from a few eager beavers that press releases have no relevance anymore. Ignore them. The media takes press releases seriously.  Realistically, that’s all you need to care about.

A press release is just a piece of communication, like an email, a text, a tweet or a blog post. It seeks to inform about something.

The difference between a press release and a tweet, an email or a text

(a) It is intended, specifically, to be referred to as a public
position, policy or announcement
(b) It represents the reputation of the issuer
(c) It is not casual or throwaway, like a tweet, a blog post or an email
(d) It is held to a higher degree of critical scrutiny

A press release should be crafted with many things in mind (for a longer explanation and some examples of this, see the specific (and lengthy)advice I’ve written on this topic on my blog).

Here are a few relevant points:

  • Write clearly and to-the-point
  • Include pricing, availability and direct contact details of as many people as is suitably possible
  • Front-load the key facts at the top of the release, ideally in bullet-points
  • Give industry or financial context: what are the big movements/events recently in your business? Why does your announcement stand out? Be specific about this
  • Don’t ever, ever issue a press release announcing that you have won the ‘partner of the year’ award (awarded by some other company)
  • Do NOT attach headshot photos
  • Try to write a short personalised note at the beginning of the press release
Journalist, blogger and editor, Adrian Weckler

Journalist, blogger and editor, Adrian Weckler