Press Releases, News Releases, Media Releases, Web Releases – Huh?

As a small business owner interested in press release writing and distribution, it’s quite possible that you’re going to come across a few different terms for the same thing:

  • press releases
  • news releases
  • media releases
  • Web releases

Why do we have so many different names for the same public relations writing tool? Unless you’re in the PR industry, it can seem downright confusing.

The Differences

“Press release” is the traditional term for the usually one-page document you’ll distribute to people or media outlets in your niche or industry to disseminate news or other timely information.

“News release” is a more general term many in the PR field like to use now because “press” implies print media. Now we distribute to broadcast and Web media and even social media outlets (not to mention directly to our end audiences online).

“Media release” is similar to “news release” — just another more general term sometimes used. These days I mostly see it used in reference to social media releases, but occasionally see it on its own.

“Web release” is specifically for releases distributed online.

My Preference

Personally, I still prefer the term “press release,” and it’s what we’ll predominantly use here at Public Relations Writing. But as a former PR professional, why would I choose to use a term many of my colleagues find antiquated? Because it just makes sense.

The association of the term “press release” with print media might occur with PR professionals, but my experience is that members of my target market (small business owners, independent professionals, and Web professionals) do not make that connection. Some PR pros assume that when clients use the word “press” they have all of these preconceived notions about not only what press releases do but apparently what PR is all about at well. My experience is quite the opposite, with very little understanding and a huge willingness to learn no matter what clients choose to call them (and it seems insulting to me for industry insiders to assume that clients would associate a single tool with the purpose of an entire profession — if that’s true, then PR folks simply aren’t doing their job).

On top of that, “press release” is the term they prefer to use, and it’s therefore the term I need to use if I want to reach them (advertising that I can write Web releases means nothing to many of them when they’re looking to hire a press release writer, so I stick to press release writing in ads and my own sites).

Not only does this apply to my own target market, but in general “press release” is still the preferred term outside of the PR industry — it’s the most searched for option when people are looking for information on release writing and distribution. Let’s look at Google’s global monthly search volume for each of the terms to show you what I mean (results generated from the Adwords Keyword Tool):

  • Press Release — 823,000 searches monthly
  • News Release — 90,500 searches monthly
  • Media Release — 40,5000 searches monthly
  • Web Release — 8100 searches monthly

Obviously people are looking for information on “press releases” far more than they’re searching for information using any of those other terms. You need to appeal to your audience, and my audience wants “press release” info.

Some might try to argue that it’s better to be a big fish in a smaller pond (get a bigger portion of the smaller search volume for the other terms than a smaller portion of the larger search volume for “press release”), but that would be shortsighted. That’s because we’re not solely talking about SEO here and placements / traffic for that one generic term. If you drill down the keyword research results even more you’ll find that even the frequently searched for long tail keyword phrases in this topic area revolve around the “press release” base. Therefore, you can still reach more people with the long tail / small pond method by sticking to press releases as opposed to changing your phrasing just to appeal to other PR types (which is never something I go out of my way to do).

You can use any of the terms here, nearly interchangeably, so don’t let them confuse you when you’re doing research on press release writing. Just know that here “press release” is the way to go.

If you need help writing your next press release (or whatever you prefer to call it), get in touch and tell me about your company’s news.

Jennifer Mattern is a freelance business writer, professional blogger, consultant, and publisher.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and more than 20 years' experience in marketing and PR, specializing in digital PR and new media (with significant experience in social media, online marketing, SEO, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience, including web development, mostly in the WordPress environment.

In addition to offering client services, Jenn also developed and runs numerous online publications including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

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