Beyond PR

Jun 12, 2015

Press Release Writing Tips: Out with the Old, In with the News

4 Press Release Practices That Are Out of Date

The press releases of 2015 look very different compared to the announcements PR Newswire first distributed in 1954. Today’s high-octane press releases include digital assets, well-placed quality links, great headlines, and persuasive calls to action. They’re also easy to share on social networks and easy to find through online search.

Yet our editors still see some die-hard news release practices that are no longer necessary in today’s digital world.

“For Immediate Release”

Many public relations practitioners were taught to include “For Immediate Release” or “Embargoed until XX:XX” at the top of their press releases to tell journalists when the story could be published.

From a digital point of view, when press releases are distributed via a commercial service, they’re assumed for immediate release. As such, PR Newswire removes that line from every release we process.

When a press release goes live online, it’s ready for immediate use by journalists, influencers and other audiences.


Once a press release lands on an editor’s desk, it’s usually considered fair game to publish. Because of this, embargoing information has its risks.

There will be times when offering an embargoed exclusive to the right media point can give your news a boost. However, it should be a true exclusive you’ve held off on sending to other journalists.

With many news sites competing to break the story first, embargoes are not always honored. TechCrunch publicly stated back in 2008 that they would systematically break all embargoes as a matter of principle.

It’s because of this that we typically advise against sending embargoed news to a wide media audience.

If you are going to pitch an exclusive to a journalist, wait until after they publish their story to distribute your press release to the rest of the media.


Hashtags, Pound Signs, and Jim Dashes

A good generational test is to ask someone what the symbol “#” means.

One of our interns asked me last week why there were hashtags at the end of a release. Historically, press releases closed with a “###” or “-30-“. For wire systems, these symbols indicated to the newsroom that the text of the release was over. PR Newswire’s systems were no different – we used to signify the end of a transmission with “-0-“.

Most readers today see a press release’s boilerplate and understand they’ve come to the end.  Save the pound sign for your tweets and instead use a compelling closing paragraph to conclude your message.

Dateline Details

Press releases used to be filed away in newsrooms or disappear off of websites after a few weeks. Because of this, it was not customary to include the year in the dateline. If you find a press release online that doesn’t have a year on it, it was likely distributed prior to when including years in the dateline became standard practice.

However, thanks to website archives and search engines, press releases are now discoverable for an indefinite amount of time.

Just last month, we were asked to track down the age of a news release found online. We discovered the release was issued in 1998. That was 17 years ago! Talk about reach.

Today’s press releases have immense staying power. Including the year in your dateline helps readers determine how old the information might be, no matter what year in the future they find it.

As the media and audience needs change, press release practices will continue to evolve. Give some thought to your next announcement: Will PR Newswire get a question about it 17 years from now?

From time to time we need to re-evaluate what we’re including in the content we create. Doing so ensures that we’re providing our audiences with relevant and useful information.

If you’d like to learn more about creating news releases that drive engagement and get shared, download our guide PR & SEO: Still Driving Discovery.

As a manager of customer content services at PR Newswire, author Catherine Spicer has more than 20 years’ experience counseling brands on content quality. She is also Beyond PR’s resident Grammar Hammer.

4 Comments on Blog Post Title

­ Juperi Johnson 02:23 EDT on Jun 15, 2015

Great Read.

­ Ada Brown 04:20 EDT on Jun 17, 2015

Great share! I am running a website BOC Sciences( httpa:// ) a professional site for biochemicals, and It’s been about 3 months since I took over this site. Every press release I published attract little traffic. After reading this post, I think I should take the factors into consideration for more clicks and views.

­ Derek Handova 17:01 EDT on Jul 16, 2015

As a practicing freelance journalist, I consider embargoed press releases a good, serious tool that companies can use to give smaller media outlets a chance to put their spin on a story based on a press release that will go out at the same time that the "big boys" will run a release verbatim or do a quick rip and read. Most journalists I know will honor an embargo. If they don’t observe an embargo, they know that they will not get first dibs on meaty news items the next time around.

­ Jaime Ruiz 12:43 EST on Dec 1, 2015

Thank you! Good up date.
Gracias. Una buena actualizacin.

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