Any Difference Between a Press Release and a News Release?

By Raj Vardhman

June 25, 2023

Contrary to popular belief, there’s a difference between the terms ‘press release’ and ‘news release’ as they have somewhat different forms and serve different purposes.

For example, while news releases typically cover concurrent or past events, press releases often talk about events taking place in the future.

Keep on reading to get all the details you need!

Press Release vs. News Release: Definitions

While some industry professionals use both terms interchangeably, public relations practitioners know there’s a difference nowadays, even though it didn’t exist before the advent of the internet and social media. The distinction has mainly to do with time.

Namely, ‘press release’ (the older term) is used whenever companies have to inform the public about upcoming projects, products, and services. On the other hand, a ‘news release’ can cover any range of topics, both past, current, and future.

Also, while press releases are typically written by the company’s in-house marketing team and sent to media outlets for dissemination (originally in a printed form, thus the name), news releases are often composed by journalists from their point of view.

Different Purposes: One Major Difference

As mentioned above, the distinction that developed in the digital age separates press and news releases depending on how they are used and what they are used for.

Press releases announce a company’s recent developments and plans for the future to garner attention, which can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Product launch announcements,
  • Participation in upcoming business events,
  • Progress updates regarding various services,
  • Information on concluded business deals,
  • Employment and collaboration postings.

As for news releases, they tend to focus on the human element of a company or its past and current dealings, as seen from a journalistic perspective, and can include:

  • An exposé regarding the business and its leaders,
  • The effects of the economy on the company dealings,
  • Employee feature stories,
  • Charity events organized by the company,
  • Business scandal and crime reports,
  • Anything else the community finds helpful and relevant.

Note: While press releases are published through official news channels (both digital and printed), news releases are better suited for online communication channels.

Different Forms: How Are They Written?

Press releases take the form of very brief and concise written statements that deliver dry facts without any personal elements. To be effective, they must contain:

  • Personalized correspondences—when sending out a press release to journalists, marketers must personalize the subject line and the content of the email and send them to journalists they know are interested in their business dealings;
  • Captivating headlines—in today’s day and age, readers have a very narrow attention span, and the only way to interest them in reading your press release is to write a concise, informative, and catchy killer title;
  • Focus on a single topic—only cover the facts of the upcoming event or business updates and get to the point in less than 500 words; you only have to provide the necessary details and the contact information;
  • Grammatically correct writing—use short sentences in active voice and double-check your spelling and grammar to ensure you provide a professional and concise piece of writing to maintain your credibility as an expert in the field.

On the other hand, news releases follow the journalistic writing formula since they are written by reporters and correspondents covering any worthy news related to the company in question. For that reason, they seek to answer the five Ws of journalism:

  • What happened or is happening?
  • When did it happen or is happening?
  • Who was or is involved?
  • Where did it take or is taking place?
  • Why did it happen or is happening?

However, unlike press releases, news releases are written by journalists who sometimes impart their own views on events without following the company’s standpoint. Therefore, they may add some of their own research to expand the context of the news in question.

Bottom Line

Both press releases and news releases are announcement methods employed by businesses of any size to inform the public, investors, and shareholders about their past, current, or future business dealings. As such, these written pieces are powerful PR tools that are crucial to any marketing communication campaign. After all, they ensure the message and the information is delivered to all interested parties and decision-makers in a timely fashion.

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