What is a media advisory versus a press release?

There are a few ways to let journalists know what you’re up to, but the two formal ways we’re asked about the most are Media Advisories and Press Releases.

On the surface they appear to be very similar, however they serve slightly different objectives.

A media advisory is used to share topline information about an event, while a press release gives journalists detailed information about the organisation and the specific story it wishes to get across. This can be about anything; from a product launch to corporate responsibility initiatives or some newly founded research. In some cases, PR professionals will even make them “article-ready” so time-poor journalists can publish them right away.

In this article we break down the difference between a media advisory and a press release.

What is a media advisory?

A media advisory is a one-page written invitation sent via email or post to notify journalists about an event, such as a press conference or a book launch. It is written with a view to informing the media and journalists so they will attend the event or invite other target audiences who may be interested.

How do you write a media advisory?

A media advisory gets to the point quickly and simply lists the most important aspects of the event. Consisting of around 100 - 150 words, it should include:

  1. The title “MEDIA ADVISORY” with today’s date written below it.
  2. An engaging headline about the event.
  3. The 5 Ws – who, what, when, where and the why – in order of importance. The type of information you would include here is a clear description of the event, a list of speakers, the location, and if there are any photo opportunities available on the day.
  4. To finish you should include your contact details and how to RSVP.

When should you send the media advisory?

If you have an event coming up, you should send a media advisory to journalists twice. The first time should be within a month of the event and again a day before the event.

What is a press release?

A press release is a written announcement by an organisation which is shared with the media and journalists so they can share it with their audience. Depending on the complexity of the announcement, a press release will be between 300 – 700 words and contain relevant information for the media to accurately report on the story. Some organisations may also give the media photography and video assets to help the journalists bring the story to life.

When are press released used?

A press release is used when an organisation wants to tell a relevant story to its target audience. For example, Apple will create a new iPhone with lots of new features. Ahead of its launch to boost its sales, the marketing team may write a press release detailing the technology involved and how it’ll affect its users’ life. The press release may be sent to technology press, lifestyle press and if the phone boasts a high-tech camera – the photography press.

How do you write a press release?

A great tip for writing a press release is to imagine you are reporting a live news story. What information would you want to know first? A good press release will be between 300 – 700 words and contain:

  1. Your company logo on the top right-hand corner.
  2. The date in the top left-hand corner.
  3. A compelling headline and subheadline.
  4. An introductory summary that tells the reader the five “who, what, where, why and when” within a sentence which enables the journalist to understand the story right away. The rest of the press releases job is to explain these in more detail.
  5. A first full paragraph that contains the important details and leading elements of the story. This could be the “who” and the “what” are the “where”.
  6. A second paragraph with supporting information and relevant quotes. This could be the “why” and the “when”, alongside a quote from the CEO about the issues raised.
  7. A third paragraph which contains other supporting information, such as statistics or information about third parties involved.
  8. A boilerplate, which is standardised text about your organisation and what you do.
  9. Your contact information.

When should you send a press release?

This all depends on a multiple of factors, but the rule of thumb is – is this really “news”. If it isn’t new news you are just trying to manufacture some coverage via a press release you need to take a different approach, and that’s another article! However assuming it is “new” news you should send a press release as soon as you are ready to announce your news, although this could vary based on whether similar news has been reported on recently. The best way to be sure is to put yourself in the journalist’s shoes and consider what they need to be sent and when to be able to report your story in time, alongside other competing needs and deadlines.

If you’re sending a press release regarding an event, you should send this as soon as possible. Some journalists have long lead times, and plan their articles months in advance.

To summarise

A media advisory is used to tell journalists about an upcoming event and is between 100 – 150 words.

A press release is used for various news-worthy company announcements and is sent to journalists so they can share your story. They contain the 5 whys to give journalists an overview of who you are and what you do and are usually between 300 – 700 words long.

For more advice on media pitching and public relations, read more on our Knowledge Hub and follow LionbridgePR on LinkedIn. We are also always around to help your business with PR and more, simply email us at info@lionbridgepr.com