Posted by: Sarah Kemp | April 20, 2009

Chapter 14- News Releases, Media Alerts, & Pitch Letters

Chapter 14

In Chapter 14, I read about the importance of three social medias: News Releases, Media Alerts and Pitch Letters. I had heard of news releases, and had even wrote some before, but had never heard of the other ways to get media out in the field of public relations. The news release has been around since Ivy Lee in 1906, when used for the Pennsylvania Railroad and it still the most commonly used from of mass media, as discussed in our text.

A News Release, also known as a press release, is a simple document whose primary purpose is the transferring of information to mass media such as newspapers, radios, and magazines. Because news releases are so important to companies, and are sometimes the only source for a news outlet, I have pulled out a few tips for sending effective press releases…here a few of the tips I found most important from our text:

  • Don’t use generic words such as “the leading provider” or “word-class” to position your company.
  • Tell the news. Focus on how your announcement affects your industry and lead with that rather than overtly promoting your product or company.
  • Don’t describe products with phrases such as “unique” or “total solution.”
  • Use short, succinct headlines and subheads to highlight main points and pique interest.
  • Don’t use lame quotes. Write like someone is actually talking-eliminate the corporates that editors love to ignore.

Media alerts also known as media advisories. Public Relations staff will usually send memos to reporters or editors about a news conference that they could be interested in covering. These Media Alerts can keep good relations with the press and allow more communication before and after press conferences. They may be sent with an accompanying news release or by themselves, and the most common format for media alerts is short, bulleted items rather than long paragraphs.

A one-page advisory might contain the following elements:

  • a one-line headline
  • a brief paragraph outlining the story idea
  • some of journalism’s five W’s and H
  • a short paragraph telling the reporter who to contact for more information or to make arrangements

A Pitch Letter is a short letter or note to the editor that tires to grab their attention. A pitch letter is sometimes attached to a media kit and lets the editor know, in brief form, about the program. PR people also use pitches to ask editors to assign a reporter to a particular event, to pursue a feature angle on an issue or trend, or even to book a spokesperson on a forthcoming show.


I am glad that we covered these important media tools because they will play a large part in our potential future in the Public Relations field.

Notes from: Public Relations Stategies and Tactics (9th ed.) by D. Wilcox, G. Cameron.

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