Press releases are everywhere

Press Release

When doing online research, you will find a lot of press releases out there. There are two types of places a press release will come from, these being:

  1. The organisation who released information, or
  2. An media organisation that has either:
    • Regurgitated the same information or
    • Used some of the information as part of the story.

Unfortunately the use of regurgitating press releases are on the rise. I see all too this often. Sometimes a news article is just a cut and paste version of the press release.  From an online researcher’s point of view it is getting more and more difficult to take a news article at face value.  You need to rely upon your information evaluation skills more and more in order to determine if a news article is quality information these days.

The same goes for a press release.

The anatomy of a press release

Generally there are four types of press releases. The types and what they look like are:

  1. Organisation/person announces something and they think it is a good thing.
    1. We are going to do or have done a thing.
    2. It is a good thing.
    3. Why we like it is ____ (a lot of emotive words designed to make you feel good about the thing).
  2. A positive response about a thing that an organisation/person did or is going to do.
    1. Organisation X did a thing.
    2. It is a good thing and we really like it.
    3. Why we like it is ____ (a lot of emotive words designed to make you feel good about the thing).
  3. A negative response about a thing that an organisation/person did or is going to do.
    1. Organisation X did a thing.
    2. It is a bad thing, we really don’t like it.
    3. Why we don’t like it is ____ (a lot of emotive words designed to make you feel bad about the thing).
  4. Organisation/person announces that they are sorry for doing a thing which the public don’t seem to like.
    1. We did a thing.
    2. A lot of people didn’t like this thing.
    3. We are sorry and will do another thing.
    4. Why we like this new thing is ____ (a lot of emotive words designed to make you feel good about the new thing).

There are other types of press releases. However these four are most common types I have seen. The other types tend to follow a similar format.

press release

Does a press release hold quality information?

For me personally, I tend to only find three useful pieces of information from a press release. These are:

  • A thing was done,
  • An organisation and or person has an opinion about the thing, and
  • People who write press releases are very good at emotive writing.

Unfortunately, I very rarely find a press release these days which tells me anything more the three points mentioned above. The only value I can get is confirmation that a thing was done or is going to be done.

How people or organisations feel about a thing is kind of irrelevant.  Most times these opinions aren’t relevant to the information I am trying to find for my client.

Sometimes you can get a feeling about whether a thing is actually good or not by looking at all the press releases about the thing. However for an online researcher, opinions can be murky waters to wade through.

So my advice, if you see a press release, please don’t take it as gospel truth. You need to look for other sources which discuss the thing. Best to find some information from an independent third party, who does not have a vested interest.

Good luck and happy searching.

**Here is some back ground material you might find interesting about Journalism and public relations.

http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2012/oct/04/marketingandpr-pressandpublishing 

http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/15/over-half-your-news-is-spin/

http://www.crikey.com.au/2015/11/20/theres-never-been-a-better-time-to-be-a-journalist-really/

https://www.pria.com.au/documents/item/6774

Online Research Matters

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