The functions of press releases

Here are a number of short extracts from cover letters accompanying press releases, in which the writer of the press release - or a top manager of the organisation that it is issued by - requests the journalists to 'publish' the news.

Read the extracts carefully. What do they tell you about the distribution of power between the organisations that issue press releases and the media that are supposed to retell them?

  • Enclosed you will find a press release. Would you be kind enough to insert it in your publications? This information may be of interest to your readers.
  • We would be extremely grateful should you be able to include this release in your section on exhibitions free of charge.
  • We kindly ask you to include this message in your next edition.
  • Last week I sent the attached press release to the 'Economy and Finance' editors. It appears not to have been published yet. Could I ask you to intervene in this?
  • WATCH OUT: this press release replaces yesterday's version!
  • We are convinced, dear sir, that this text will form the basis for a powerful article, so that we can both reap the fruits from it.
  • This action has not been announced at the ministers' offices. We ask you if we can count on your discretion.
  • politeness expressions:
    • 'would you be kind enough...'
    • 'extremely grateful'
    • 'we kindly ask you'
    • ...
  • lexis:
    • 'insert'
    • 'include'
    • 'publish'
    • ...
  • motive:
    • it's in your readers' interest
  • demands:
    • it should be free of charge
    • in your next edition
    • can you intervene
    • ...

You can now get a feel of how press releases work by writing a first draft and/or by taking the role of a journalist and rewriting a press release into a newspaper article.