What is a press release? | FAQs

MARKETING   |   3 minutes  |   February 20, 2017

In this short video, Rebecca Cronje, Head Tutor of the UCT Public Relations online short course, talks about one of the tools in the public relations manager’s toolbox: the press release.

When answering the question of “What is a press release?”, Rebecca covers the traditional use of this marketing tool, its typical length, current application, and provides current examples of what content a Public Relations Manager should include in this piece of powerful PR collateral.

A press release is one type of PR communication tools that serves a one-way communication objective through the release of information about the organisation to the public. This type of PR focuses on distributing information that is written by the organisation itself, in the hope that the message will affect the right audience. Typically, other versions of media that can be used in this channel other than a press release include brochures and non-interactive websites.

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A press release is one tool in the Public Relations toolbox. It has been used for many years, and was designed to engage the media and press – hence the name. It is typically 500 – 700 words in length, is based around a news angle and is a consolidated summary of key messages and reader value. The press release, while still in use today, is not as common as it was thanks to the diversity of new tools that can be used to release news to desired audiences. A tweet can achieve the same thing – assuming it is followed by influential media and other stakeholders – as can a video release that is shared on a company’s YouTube channel and promoted on social media. If a press release is used, then it should include company hyperlinks, link to or provide accompanying visuals that can work alone as a story and be repurposed into different formats such as an infographic or tweet to increase its reach. And, it’s key to note that PR does not stand for Press Release, it is merely a coincidence; PR stands for Public Relations which refers to the full ambit of communication with stakeholders.