Press Releases vs Media Alerts

Knowing Which One is Right for Your Announcement

Press releases and media alerts are two of the most common tools used by brands to build brand awareness, drive website traffic, generate leads and create buzz. While both are used to share important, timely information, they are not always interchangeable. Knowing the difference between the two and when to use the appropriate tool in your media relations strategy can help ensure a more impactful reach for your company’s announcement.


Press Releases

Press releases are official statements released to the public that anoint important company news or information. Press releases are intended for the media to use as the basis for their own news stories, so it’s important to include any relevant details in a press release as well as quotes from key players in the announcement. Typically, press releases are written in the “inverted-pyramid” format – meaning that the most important information is at the top of the release, and is followed by supporting details and quotes. 


Optimum times to use a press release include:

  • Ahead of the launch of a new location, product or key offerings. 
  • Sharing the findings from a special report that reveals key statistics about your industry.
  • When your business is undergoing an acquisition or is partnering with another company to improve and/or expand its product/service offerings. 
  • Announcing new hires at the C-suite level or newly created roles within the organization. For example, if a non-profit created a new head of sustainability role within the organization, that would be press release worthy. It should be noted that new hires below the c-suite level are more difficult to get placed in the media, so careful consideration should be given to the newsworthiness of the recent hire. 


Media Alerts

Alternatively, media alerts are often used as a way to pre-promote an event or news and create buzz. They are also distributed to short-lead media outlets such as TV assignment desks, photo desks and media that make editorial decisions within a tight timeframe (versus those that require advance planning such as weekly, monthly and more feature-based contacts). Media alerts make it easy for the media to scan a document to determine what the announcement is about and if it is relevant to their coverage. Media alerts are precise, including only the need-to-know information of an announcement. It’s not uncommon for a media alert to include bullets and short sentences. 


Media alerts are more effective when:

  • Announcing an upcoming event such as a grand opening, high-level panel discussion, book signing, call for widespread community action, live demonstration and so on. 
  • News needs to be broadcasted or covered in a shorter turnaround time. 
  • Promoting an upcoming event or product launch to relevant media. 


Press releases and media alerts alike are excellent tools to use in a media relations strategy, and are made even more effective when used in tandem with targeted media outreach and social media. Though it’s not always black and white when it comes down to using a press release versus a media alert. Things such as turnaround time, desired audience, newsworthiness and budget have an influence on which announcement medium your company uses. 


While it helps to know the nuances between press releases and media alerts when deciding which to use in your media strategy, there are no hard and fast rules that dictate when to use one over the other. If unsure how to incorporate media alerts and press releases into your comprehensive media relations strategy, Breakaway PR can help.