On Oct. 28, 1906 (108 years ago), public relations expert Ivy Lee wrote the first news release to journalists about a tragic train accident that happened on the Pennsylvania Railroad. Fifty passengers were killed when a three-car train of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s new electric service jumped a trestle at Atlantic City, N.J., and plunged into the Thoroughfare creek.
According to About.com, Lee convinced the railroad company to release the news to journalists before any rumors were spread or reported on about the accident. The New York Times printed the news release, word-for-word, on Oct. 29, 1906.
On the left is an image of the printed version of the news release in The New York Times. Since 1906, there have been two major changes to news releases: distribution and multimedia platforms. Distribution methods evolved along with technology. Today, there are four main points of distribution: email, wire service, post on website, and social media platforms. There are many things added to the distribution of a news release, i.e. SEO keywords, videos, photos and links to websites, but the core messaging in a news release have not changed that much over time. Technology has helped news releases to transition as a modern tool while still maintaining its original roots.
News releases are simply written public relations announcements made to draw media attention to a specific event or product launch that is newsworthy for readers and viewers of various outlets. Never forget your “five W’s” for a release and always research the writer, editor or blogger you would like to send the release to before actually clicking send in your email box.
Have a question about news releases or insight into writing a great release? Comment below!