Press Releases

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To most people, a press release is something the president, lawyer, or other public figure presents in front of TV cameras on the steps of a building of significance. In reality, press releases come in all shapes and sizes, not just huge announcements. Hundreds of thousands of press releases are issued every day and they range from pages of information to just a sentence or two. Traditionally, press releases are stories regarding newsworthy information about a company or industry that are given to the news media as a way to keep the news media and public informed about the company. Any piece of information that the company releasing the press release believes is of importance to the public is given to the media through a press release. The information could be statistics about the company, information about an upcoming event, or product information. Whatever the information is, the press release is a way for the company to try to make the information public.

Modern media has transformed the original form of press release, which could take days to be delivered and required pages upon pages of printed information. Today, press releases are not only delivered electronically in real time, but they are also given to the public directly. Instead of relying on newspapers and news broadcasts as mediums, companies can ensure that the general public receives the information included in a press release and in a timely manner. Because so many press releases are issued each day, the news media cannot publish everything that companies send them as newsworthy. In fact, despite the importance to the company of the information included in a press release, the news media may not find the information to be interesting enough for publication. Or, if a press release arrives on the desk of a journalist on a day that is already full of important new stories, the likelihood of that press release getting much attention lowers even more. Relying on the news media as a middleman for distribution of information that is important to a company is not an efficient marketing action.


Modern marketing tools, such as online press releases, allow companies to bypass the limited reliability and inconsistent benefits of news media-oriented press releases. Today, press releases are given directly to the consumer, completely shifting the orientation of what was once a strictly press-oriented form of marketing. For example, in the past press releases were written to capture the interest of journalists, but today's press releases are written for the consumer. Press releases are written in a style that appeals to the consumer and are placed on the Web for consumer access. Before, press releases needed to appeal to the news media in order to be distributed, but now, press releases need to appeal to the public directly because the public is the primary judge of its news-worthiness.

Of course, if press releases were only oriented toward the consumer, their name may as well be changed. Press releases are also still geared toward attracting the attention of journalists and other forms of media, but instead of members of the media choosing a story from the mounds of press releases they used to get each day, they can now search for press releases that are of interest to them and can discern their interest in press releases through online press release services, which are discussed later in this chapter. By publishing an informative and interesting press release, companies can attract the attention of both the consumer and the media, which can multiply the amount of attention they are getting just from a single press release. This method is much more efficient than the old style, but it requires some knowledge of writing and distributing modern press releases.


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