Once upon a time PR was all about working with the media. Back then, we didn’t need to qualify the word media with a word like “traditional.” There was no such thing as “new” media or “emerging” media or “social” media. These were simpler times.
Back then — as it is today — the term “press release” was used interchangeably with the term “news release.” But even back then, there was some debate about which was better. For the most part, the PR community was indifferent as was the majority of the editorial community. But there were some editors — mostly old-school journalists — that did express a preference. They preferred the news release. They would argue that a news release was the vehicle a company should use to issue news; and if it wasn’t news, it shouldn’t be released. To these reporters, calling it a “press release” made it seem disingenuous — as if the company was subtly admitting the intent of the communique was to manipulate them rather than to provide them with the facts. Journalists back then cared about facts. Some still do.
In those days, it seemed that we were always fighting with clients NOT to send out meaningless drivel via news release — even if their competition insisted on doing so. It tended to piss editors off to have to wade through a mountain of crap just to get to something meaningful. But things have changed.
Today, there are plenty of practitioners who argue that companies should be a lot more liberal with news releases and they are correct to do so. Releases aren’t just for the media any longer — they are used to directly communicate to a whole array of audiences who read them online. News releases can — and should — also be used to help out with search engine optimization and as part of a social media strategy.
Strangely, many of those practitioners who most actively evangelize non-media uses of releases still insist on referring to them as press releases. I say the time has come to purge the term “press release” completely from our vocabulary. The term is no longer technically correct. What say you?