What Makes a Good Press Release Today?

Last Updated May 14, 2008 5:03 PM EDT

Search around the web on Google News or elsewhere for the day's round of press releases and you're likely to find a vast majority still being written and distributed in the pseudo-news format that has been prevalent for decades. I'm not exactly sure why this model gained supremacy, because it has never been a particularly efficient way to disseminate news, but it persists today, even in the age of instant worldwide communication.

For awhile, before the Internet, this stodgy news release format went unchallenged, and journalists who were forced to wade through them to find the nuggets of news they needed did so largely without complaint. Now, however, there is a rising chorus of criticism for this format, and many suggestions about how to improve press releases to make them more user-friendly.

In the end, though, there are only really two elements that define a good press release: it needs to be brief, and it needs to contain real news. The definition of "real news" is that it be timely and contain some facts and figures about the news you are announcing. You get bonus points for including links to background information on the web. You also get bonus points for making sure the people who are involved in announcing the news -- the PR person and the key spokespeople -- are available to comment and follow-up with interested parties immediately after the release is issued.

If you're interested in the subtleties of the evolution of the press release, head over to TechCrunch and read this blog post by PR 2.0 deep thinker Brian Solis.

  • Jon Greer

    Jon Greer has been analyzing media and PR for more than 25 years. He's been a journalist and a PR executive, and has been a featured speaker for many years at the Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit, and served as Bulldog's Editorial Director for their PR University series of weekly how-to audio conferences.

    Jon provides PR services including media relations and freelance writing to clients including start-ups, law firms, corporations, investment banks and venture capital firms. In addition, Jon provides spokesperson training. Learn more about Jon's training programs at The Media Bridge.