Question: How old is the press release?
Answer: 100 years and one month...
On the 28th of October 1906 Ivy Lee – considered by some to be the founder of modern PR – wrote the first ever press release. Lee’s agency was working with the Pennsylvania Railroad when a serious train accident happened in Atlantic City. Besides inviting reporters to visit the accident scene by themselves, he also distributed a release to the media. The New York Times applauded this unusual opennes of the company and published it literally, without modifications. (Now that’s coverage!)
His next release was for anthracite coal operators whose employees were striking. This time he received a lot of criticism as he was said to manipulate the news.
100 years on PR by press release is everso popular...
Since e-mail has become commonplace, the physical threshold to issue a release has been reduced to one mouse click. Now anybody with one finger and a computer can write a release.
“Got news? Press release!”
“Not such major news? Never mind, still a press release!”
Let’s stop this. We all know that editorial staff are being overloaded by releases that contain no news. Journalists are getting fed-up by yet another company claiming to be the leading provider of a life changing product blablabla...
Next time you start writing a release: stop typing. Get yourself a coffee and take a few minutes to rethink your decision. Isn’t there a better option? Have you thought about offering (exclusive) interviews? Factsheets? An infographic maybe?
Let’s do this and leave the release to the real important stuff. Perhaps you will make it into the New York times then.