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The Press Release: Do TV and Newspaper Editors See Eye to Eye?


Publication Date: 2011 Spring

Source: SO03 Public Relations Journal
Product Code: 6D-050203
Organization/Author/Firm: Reginald F. Moody
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Summary

In an effort to expand and compare results with a 2008 study of newspaper editors, this research asked the following: Do TV assignment editors have similar preferences for writing style in press releases as do their newspaper counterparts, or are they inclined to respond differently, owing to the demands of TV audiences and the characteristics of the broadcast medium? Results of this experiment indicate that TV assignment editors are just as likely as newspaper editors to use all or part of press releases written in either the inverted pyramid style or narrative style. However, the two have mixed opinions as to which writing style produces a more interesting and enjoyable, more informative, clearer and more understandable and more credible press release. The author discusses how public relations students and professionals can benefit from this disparity of response between TV assignment editors and newspaper editors in the acceptance or rejection of news releases based on writing style.

The notion that newspaper editors are more likely to choose a press release written in a narrative style over one written in an inverted-pyramid style was mixed at best when viewed from the surface of an experiment conducted in 2008 of newspaper editors across the American heartland.  Nonetheless, writing style was seen as having an unquestionable link to an editor’s assessment of certain press release characteristics, such as whether a release was found to be more interesting and enjoyable, more informative, clearer and more understandable and more credible.  In the newspaper editor’s study, the narrative writing style was seen as providing those attributes much more effectively than the inverted pyramid writing style.

In an effort to expand and compare results with the 2008 newspaper study, the following research asked the following: Do TV assignment editors have similar preferences for writing style in press releases as do their newspaper counterparts, or are they inclined to respond differently, owing to the demands of TV audiences and the characteristics of the broadcast medium? Although studies have tested the effects of writing style on certain types of groups, none has measured the effects of writing style on TV assignment editors.

Understanding the intrinsic worth of one writing style over the other is important to public relations students if they are to gain a greater appreciation of the dynamics that shape press release acceptance in the electronic media. Such a study is also critical for public relations professionals who feel the clarity or the worth of the press releases they write may be at risk when utilizing either method.




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