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Word around the water cooler is there is some “back-and-forth” between public relations (PR) practitioners on how to distinguish a press release from a news release. Now, this by no means is as serious as the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, but it’s no small potatoes, either.

Let’s put one fact out there: Releases are meant to inform and sometimes required by law for some companies. It’s the audience and the “need to know” that presents the dilemma. That said, press releases are pretty much obsolete.

There was a time when PR was the “dark side” and releases were prepared solely for traditional news organizations – not bloggers, online factions or Twitter followers – and that’s it. Circa 2000, Perez Hilton would have never received a press release back in the day, let alone TMZ. An old-school reporter, assignment editor or section editor would snatch the release from the fax machine, wire service or snail mail, address it during a daily pow wow and if it was a hot ticket, you covered the story. If the release lacked credibility or substance, that was a wrap.

And though press releases went out of style like those shoulder pads Joan Crawford wore in 1945’s “Mildred Pierce,” they’re making a comeback as the reinvented news release. Here’s what draws the line in the sand: A news release is basically information someone releases to any relevant organization. Thanks to convergence in the Digital Age and a collective “right-now” mentality, along with the many non-traditional informational outlets, anyone can receive a news release – and most do, particularly online.

Let’s face it, news organizations are getting smaller. There are fewer print newspapers today since the 1970s. Newspapers are no longer printed “hot off the presses. They’re sent right to your email and social media feeds. Organizations find a niche columnist, e.g., blogger, and legitimize the outlet by supplying credible information. Not to be left out is the all-important consumer who now receives news releases.

How does Etched Communication know all of this? We understand and utilize nontraditional means to help clients cultivate the always-traditional bottom line: PROFITS.

By Nikki Bannister, @NikBannister

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