A press release / news release / media release / press statement or video release is an announcement distributed to members of the press in order to supplement or replace an oral presentation. It is a form of scripted or taped communication aimed at journalists or news writers for declaring something supposedly remarkable. In most cases, press releases are emailed, telefaxed, or posted through mail to editors at daily or weekly publications, magazines, broadcasting stations, TV stations, or television networks.
The Internet has completely revolutionised the way press releases are now being distributed. There are a number of professional press release distribution services that operate on a commercial basis through a fee-based policy such as news wire services. At the same time, free press release service agencies are also available, especially targeting small businesses for them to disseminate their company or service information on a more affordable level.
Press release services on the Internet store archives of press releases on various organisations thus making it more convenient to search past information about a particular company. This helps in making a company's news more conspicuous online and searchable through various major search engines and increasing its visibility.
The first press release was issued by Ivy Lee in 1906, directly, to news writers and editors concerning the 1906 Atlantic City Train Wreck. As a means of encouraging open communication with journalists, Lee used the publishing of the press release to invite photographers and journalists at the scene of the wreck. In later years, press releases were further refined and elaborated by public relations pioneer Edward Bernays.