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Media Alert vs. Press Release

You can have the best company, brand, or service in the world, but if no one knows you exist, success is nearly impossible. That’s why some of the most successful companies rely on a variety of marketing methods to “get the word out” about who they are, what they offer, and what makes them the best choice when compared to their competitors.

While many large companies have marketing experts on staff or contract professional agencies (like us) that offer this service, however, smaller and newer businesses can’t always afford this expense. This leaves them trying to figure it all out on their own. If this is where you find yourself, you can always get creative to extend marketing efforts to a direct link between you and your customer base by alerting the media; a highly effective way to make your company and its offerings more visible.

There are two methods that are effective: a press release and a media alert. Knowing the difference (as well as when to use it) relies on also understanding of each one’s purpose.

Press Release

In a press release, you are willingly ‘releasing’ information of an announcement to the public. For example, the hiring/appointing of a new CEO, or the launch of a new line, etc., and typically includes approved quotes that press may publish.

Media Alert

A media alert is structured more like an invitation or notice.  It gives the facts, listed clearly, without interpretation or introduction. This of this as a duplicate of a scrolling info bar along the bottom of your favorite news channel. It tells busy readers, namely members of the media, who need to make quick decisions, the basics [who, what, where, when, why).

While the fundamental pieces of a press release and a media alert are the same (answers the important questions), the press release leaves room for lengthier context. Members of the media can typically utilize a press release to write an article without needing additional information or interviews – they are welcome to use its content verbatim.

How to decide whether to send a media alert or press release?

Think about how each is going to be used by your reader.  An editor will skim a Media Alert looking for newsworthy names, topics or locations, then pass it along as an assignment to the reporter who will attend an event or contact you (or hired agency/publicist) for more information or to schedule an interview with key individuals.

When writing a media alert, keep this in mind: it is a basic, and ideally simple, assignment memo. Be conservative with details and length.

Note, press releases are sometimes referred to as a news release or media release, which can be easily confused.


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