OK, that was a trick question -- because news releases and press releases are exactly the same thing.
Just don’t tell that to my old city desk editor.
When I took my first newspaper job, I was skimming through a stream of PR Newswire press releases on my computer and found one that seemed interesting.
I printed it out and put it in front of my editor as he sat at another computer editing a story.
“I think we should do something with this press release,” I said cheerily as I stood behind him.
Without looking back, he snapped, “It’s not a press release. It’s a news release.”
“What’s the difference?” I asked, genuinely confused.
He turned around.
“If it’s news, it’s a news release. If it’s not, we don’t cover it.”
What's in a Name? Accuracy and Trust
Journalists have always been sensitive about getting their information and story ideas from press releases.
Many call them “news releases” because their value should be the news they contain, not the press they are sent to.
The term has never really caught on with the general public. Per Google, a search for "news release" generates only about one-fifth as many results as a search for "press release."
Still, now that I own a PR agency, I prefer the term “news release."
Why? It carries with it more trust than the term "press release." It reminds our team and clients that the release should have substance.
In 2020, it is also more accurate. Today, your release should be written for a much larger audience than just the press.
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