Tag Archives: press release

What You Need to Know About AP Style for 2018

As a follow-up to an earlier blog post on the importance of communicators’ adhering to AP Style, each year, in order to stay relevant, editors meet and make updates to the style book. Then we all need to learn the new rules. This year was no exception, and the following is a list of the more noteworthy AP Style changes in 2017.

  • Singular “they” – AP Style now allows the use of “they” as a singular pronoun when rewriting the sentence would be awkward.
  • “He” is no longer acceptable for gender-neutral.
  • Cyberattack – The word refers to a computer operation carried out over a device or network that causes physical damage or significant and widespread disruption.

Read more after the jump…

Press Releases Do Matter – How to Make Sure Yours Gets Attention

Press releases go back to the beginning of time for public relations, more than 100 years. In today’s digital age, I’ve often wondered how effective they are in getting the media’s attention. I found the following infographic, What Can 50,000 Press Releases Teach Us?, that appeared in PRNews online created by pr.co of particular interest.

Some of the findings from their research, which included 50,000 press releases that appeared on their site since April 2013:

  • Most press releases are published on Tuesdays
  • Less than one out of five press releases are published on weekends
  • 61% of readers view press releases between Monday and Thursday

No matter when you send out a news release, if you don’t write a quality news release, you will have missed an important opportunity to get your message out. Here are some tips for effective press release writing:

Read more after the jump…

Another Reason Why The Press Release Still Lives

Several months ago, I wrote a post about whether or not the press release is dead. It resulted in some fun comments and conversations, and I’m happy to say that at least from my peers in the PR world, the general consensus is that the press release definitely serves a purpose. Not only can a press release be a source of news or offer background for a story being pitched, it can also serve as a vehicle for companies and brands to improve their search engine optimization (SEO).

We thought it would be helpful to share a few tips from our SEO team to help you make the most of your press releases and work towards that increasingly important #1 Google spot! Read more after the jump…

The Press Release: No! It’s Not Dead

I came a across a blog post the other day by Lou Hoffman, of The Hoffman Agency, titled “Why Great Storytelling in a News Release Can Hurt Your Cause.” It’s a good a reminder to use a press release wisely, mainly to share necessary facts and details, and to leave the storytelling to the reporters.

I couldn’t agree more with Hoffman, but the post got me thinking about my old friend the press release, and the bad rap it gets.  I’ve written so many over the years I might have a hard time counting that high. One could say I’m biased. But, I’ve also pitched reporters for – let’s just say a long time – and for certain news including events, product launches, store openings or even closing, many (not all) reporters seem to appreciate the who, what, where, when, why and how. It is helpful to share with others in the newsroom, and most importantly, being able to pull facts from a release helps keep information correct.

Read more after the jump…

Who wins when reporters cut and paste press releases?

Journalists and PR pros are closely watching the ongoing dispute between Steve Penn and his ex-employer, the Kansas City Star, regarding a controversy over press releases.

The Kansas City Star claims Penn, a former columnist at the paper, plagiarized by using material from press releases in his columns without attribution. He countersued last week saying that it’s commonplace in newsrooms to cut and paste from press releases.

It’s not plagiarism, because the writers of press releases give up ownership of the information when they send it to a newsroom, according to Penn’s suit. The suit adds that it’s a regular practice for reporters to crib from press releases.

The situation raises interesting issues. Having been on both sides of this argument—in the newsroom and in the PR world—I can tell you that reporters regularly cut and paste information from press releases. And that’s exactly what PR practitioners hope they will do.

Is it a good practice on the part of reporters? No, but it certainly does help, particularly as newsroom staffs continue to dwindle.

The issue has caused quite a stir in journalism circles. The dozens of comments on a story about the case posted by journalism think-tank Poynter.org ran the gamut:

• Press releases are written to be “plagiarized.” In fact, that’s the PR home run. A story appears just as you wrote it.
• Press releases are useful but must be treated with the same skepticism as any other piece of information: their sources identified, their assertions accepted only provisionally until checked for accuracy by other means.
• It’s as simple now as it was back in school: If you didn’t write it, don’t put your name on it as though you did.
• It’s lazy and dishonest, but not plagiarism.
• If journalists don’t write their own stuff or even fact-check the materials they’re given, what exactly are they being paid for?

The standard in newsrooms is that before a reporter uses a press release in a story, it must be checked out and information must be rewritten. There are a couple of reasons why this should be done.

Reporters must be sure the information in the release is true and accurate. It’s too easy to get duped by a fake release, and information may not always be right.

The rewriting rule has to do with different audiences. A news report is written more conversationally, and press releases can be overwritten by multiple authors, including the legal team. Plus, whether it’s plagiarism or not, a reporter worth his or her salt would never use someone else’s wording.

But that standard is hard to follow, particularly on deadline. If there’s a quote in a press release relating to a news story a reporter is covering, it’s just too easy to cut it and paste it right in the story.

It happens all the time, and that’s exactly what the PR world wants when they send a press release. We want it to be printed just as we wrote it. Do we expect that to happen? No, but it’s nice when it does.

Depending on which side you are on, fortunately, or unfortunately, it’s becoming more frequent.

(This post also appears on Ragan’s PR Daily.)