Do People Still Read Press Releases?
They do, but the uses and the value of print press releases have changed significantly over time.
The What? When? Where? Who? approach is usually confined to an email or fax-blast communication now, followed up, as always, by a friendly reminder telephone call.
People – that is over-worked, under-staffed editors – are anticipating that the standard print press release is now a self-contained story that could, with just a little editing, be dropped into a trade magazine or a weekly newspaper as a ready-to-use story.
In bigger publications or broadcast operations, the press release will still be considered a jumping off point for a reporter to follow-up.
Be very careful about one thing: the press release handout was never designed to waste an editor’s or reporter’s time. If it’s feature material, let them know that; if it really is that rarity, a legitimate “news’ release, let them know that, too.
Every journalist is rushed and short of time. Save them time and effort and you will be playing to your strength as a good public relations officer.
Below is an example of a feature-oriented press release that could easily be used as a small story.
Summer Stroll Kicks Off From Forbidden Drive in Fairmount Park
Support the Epilepsy Foundation of Eastern Pennsylvania’s biggest annual event.
PHILADELPHIA, JUNE 9, 2008 — Imagine a disease that strikes without warning; one that can occur at any point in a person’s life, one that robs people of all consciousness and awareness without a moment’s notice. Entire chunks of time can be lost to uncontrollable seizures, which often result in traumatic injury.
The disorder has been with mankind since the beginning of recorded history. Ancient cultures referred to it as “the falling down illness.” Now, couple this horror with the fact that, for the great majority of victims, there is no known cause, genetic or otherwise.
This disease is among medicine’s most under-reported; at least three million Americans are known to suffer from it, but millions more almost certainly are victims, or may become victims at any time. About 180,000 new cases are diagnosed every year.
In the Philadelphia area alone, over 65,000 men, women and children are fighting the condition.
This is just a snapshot of epilepsy. About 75 percent of the time, sufferers who are otherwise healthy, intelligent and, in many cases, gifted people suddenly develop the condition.
Sometimes, children miraculously outgrow it; other times, it can disrupt a person’s life in mid-career and mid-family, and stay with them forever; athletes, scholars, scientists, celebrities and some of the most celebrated figures in history, from Julius Caesar to the present, have suffered from epilepsy.
“It takes so much of your life away,” says Maura, 22, who was stricken with Juvenile Myoclonic Seizure Epilepsy at age 13. “You don’t know why it’s coming or when it’s coming. The only thing you know is what it does to you. The seizures, or worrying about the next seizure, or trying to be so careful taking your medicine and not doing anything to bring one on – it just takes over everything. You can’t know what it’s like unless you have it.”
Next weekend, on Saturday June 22, 2008, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Epilepsy Foundation of Eastern Pennsylvania will hold its annual Summer Stroll, along Forbidden Drive in Fairmount Park. Teams of volunteer walkers are organizing and seeking sponsors for every mile. Last year over 500 people took part. A picnic and children’s entertainment will follow.
“It’s a five-mile walk, completely noncompetitive,” explains Christina Pipitone, the Epilepsy Foundation’s director of development. “This is our biggest annual event to raise money for education, outreach and awareness. We focus on two distinct groups – the people who suffer from this disorder, and the public. It’s a fight every day to dispel the myths and misconceptions.
“Above all, we want to reach out to people who suffer from the isolation of epilepsy and make sure they know they are not all alone,” Pipitone said.
Every summer, in August, the Epilepsy Foundation’s Camp Achieve, in Green Lane, Pennsylvania, gives children affected with seizure disorders a weeklong camping experience and an opportunity for fun and companionship. Proceeds of events like the Summer Stroll, an annual golf day and a holiday dinner help fund scholarships to Camp Achieve.
For information on the Summer Stroll, Camp Achieve or any other programs and activities sponsored by the Epilepsy Foundation of Eastern Pennsylvania, please call Mike Mallowe, Communications Director, at 215-875-3382, or email him at