A History of Press Releases

Writing a decent press release is a noble art. I say art, but the reality is probably more corporate than creative. And I say noble, but the reality is often more Machiavellian than morally motivated.

Why use press release?
Press releases are generally used by companies to present information in a straight-forward and factual manner, often in response to an event, a positive change or sometimes a PR crisis. They have been described by American publicist Fraser Seitel as “the granddaddy of public relations writing” and are generally sent to journalists in order to persuade them to feature the information in whichever publication they represent. Apparently many journalists hate them. I say apparently but I know this from the articles I’ve read and the emails I receive from some journalists!

Where did it all start?
In the late 1880s it was common for the US congress members to visit Newspaper Row in Washington D.C. in order to pass on titbits of information about their political manifestos. However, it is widely felt that the first official press release was sent by an American PR man named Ivy Lee in 1906. A train crash in Atlantic City, New Jersey, left 50 dead but resulted in the creation of a useful public relations tool – perhaps not the fairest of swaps.
Following the crash, Ivy Lee convinced his client Pennsylvania Railroad to let him write a statement offering an explanation of what had happened and allegedly the New York Times printed Lee’s press release verbatim.

Press releases today
Over a century later, press releases are still used as an attempt to lead journalists firmly by the nose to whatever an organisation may consider to be a newsworthy story. Having worked in house on magazines, I know many press releases get scanned for quotes and statistics and then are discarded. However, the remit of press releases has increased, with many small businesses and startups using them as a way of reaching out to customers. The key is to steer clear of an indiscriminate use of press releases lest you be accused of ‘churnalism’ or drown your audience in information they do not wish to hear.

What the future holds
A floundering print market and the onslaught of its supercilious competitor – the internet – have changed the manner in which press releases are submitted. Many commercial websites offer fee-based press release writing services which aim to make news about a company more visible and more easily found via search engines. This has created a more level playing-field for smaller businesses that would ordinarily be unable to afford the rates charged by large PR companies. Many of the people I work with are SMBs and SMEs or startups launching their product. An element of originality can be introduced via the use of Video News Releases (VNRs) and these can be turned into podcasts, blogs or community websites. Furthermore, it is now common to include hyperlinks and keywords within press release content in order to capitalise on web-marketing potential and boost SEO.

Despite developments within the market in which they are used, Ivy Lee can rest peacefully in the knowledge that the press release is likely to remain a PR “granddaddy” for some time yet, given the pickup rate I’ve seen recently.

For a bespoke press release about your SMB or company, please use my order form and I will write and distribute your Press Release within 2 days.

Startup 15: The Social of Media

As a startup business myself, I have enjoyed providing a service to support other start-upss in gaining exposure through Press Releases and social Media  and maintaining it through well crafted content. Fortunately the nature of my work allows me to encounter people from a far reaching variety of industries: from cutting canvases to marketing mangoes; labouring over language to pushing pixels.

It’s very rewarding meeting so many people for whom starting a business has moved from a dream or an idea to a reality and empowering to share successes and lessons with such people.

Maplace.co is an example of just that. Below is the Maplace Press Release I have sent to organisations today. This is a truly social media: empowering other startups and existing businesses by offering a low cost platform for their advertising and outreach.

Passion will drive you forward: Maplace for Startup 2015
Two Czech citizens became so disillusioned with menial work in the UK, they decided to make a new map. Passion and perseverance pushed them to achieve this nomination.

In the days of digital ownership becoming a household name, Maplace.co has launched an innovative platform for businesses to gain online exposure. Essentially an innovative map application designed to allow consumers to purchase a piece of our planet, people have been snapping up their maplace for just £1 GBP.

In a time when physical property ownership is a controversial issue, following the global recession, Maplace.co encourages users to make their mark on places of significance to them. Registering to use the app is free, with normal rectangular ‘plots’ commanding a token payment of £1. Own your street, your first school, somewhere you went on holiday for just £1.

Partly like a global Monopoly game, partly a multi location social media; the app was born out of the dream of self employment, and breaking free from the mundane. Winning the nomination for Startup15 would see popularity in the innovative platform rise exponentially: raising the online profile of thousands of companies across the globe.

The journey so far has not been easy. Co-founder Rose Nekudova said, “We came to the UK to try and start the business and we knew it was going to be tough. The long hours in low wage jobs made us miss our families and we were almost ready to return to the Czech Republic. Instead, we managed to use our feeling as motivation to succeed. We want to empower other startups around the world by providing a platform for them to advertise and interact with the public”

Maplace.co is the first ever social platform allowing people to own their place on the world map. By uploading logos, businesses can get their brand noticed anywhere in the world: the more recognised, the better. Like owning houses on Mayfair in Monopoly, recognised spaces will be more lucrative for participant businesses. Own Big Ben and advertise from there. Buy up big buildings to capitalise on their notoriety.

True innovation and perseverance created Maplace.co: a revolution in technology, limited only by the imagination. This innovative concept winning the startup15 award would mean enabling other startups to gain exposure through a cheap solution to advertising: making it put the social into social media.

To find out more about Maplace.co, visit Maplace.co

About the founders:

From humble beginnings, we were spurred on by a true belief in our product. Our hope is that people will use Maplace.co to connect with others and create a unique online community. We hope to inspire others with our story.

Insomniac rain: Why Gabo’s death keeps me alive

It was, of course, with heavy heart that I learned this weekend of the death of an amazing novelist. I first noticed Marquez’s work in my teenage years with thanks to the line “‘Scuse me mam for bein’ so rude; feels like a hundred years of solitude” on the Levellers’ self titled album. I had begun to write my own naive and florid form of magic realism, without really knowing what it was. Luckily, this became more refined later.

Having lived a life of teenage drug abuse and mental illness, writing was often my escape but more in the form of a self-counselling diary. It was something I used to order my thoughts but I’d lost confidence that any of it could be considered good.

For me One Hundred Years of Solitude was quite life changing in its style. We shared a birthday: Gabriel and I. But along with the likes of Ernesto Guevara and Frida Kahlo, Garcia Marquez inspired my visit to Latin America and subsequently, my late entrance to University to study creative writing and begin my convoluted journey to writing today.

Uncovering a desire that had always been there, his ‘insomniac rain’ was as much an influence within my poetics as the windswept words of Basil Bunting or the ‘rosy fingers’ of dawn that transformed Dylan Thomas’ sky.

Later, in Japan, I usually worked 2 jobs, having only one day a week off. It offered an opportunity to visit Saitama; a province just north of Tokyo. Preparing myself for a few hours of train journey, I selected Memories of my Melancholy Whores as my accompaniment, notably for its size. Reading the novella took the exact time of my train journey there and back. Like Yukio Mishima and Haruki Murukami, whose work I was reading much of at the time; Marquez’s writing conflated dreams and reality: a concept I find fascinating within life and art. It’s not his best piece of work, but perhaps his most honest.

It was following reading this short and indulgent work that I learned more about the man Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Having started life as a copywriter and journalist, his writing always invokes emotion and offers hope.

I’ve recently vowed to get back into writing for pleasure. And so to salute ‘Gabo’, I’ve dusted off his books and hope his death will inspire my magic realism renaissance.

Avoid blog disasters: top 7 mistakes

Awoken to the terrible news of typhoon Haiyan, I set about immediately contacting my Filipina cousin to check on her family. Thankfully, they are fine. But the plight of millions of other inhabitants of Cebu and its surrounding areas caught my attention. I’m a big fan of Shelter Box – and organisation from Cornwall who provide aid to the many people evacuated from their homes when natural disasters strike.

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