A press release is a recorded or written message that is directed to journalists with an intention of making public something presumably newsworthy. Many press releases are usually newsworthy but a number of them do not meet the basic elements and are therefore ignored by the media. This is because for information to be considered newsworthy it must be timely, visible, relevant in terms of proximity, contain some bizarre or catastrophic incident and must have some impact. For instance IBM made its press release in Las Vegas on 18 Oct 2011 about its collaboration with Cherry Central, a primary co-operative of numerous growers of fruits and vegetables in the US (IBM, 2011). This story was taken up by The Street, a media company which described the relationship that was developed between IBM and Cherry Central (The Street, 2011) in the interest of the public.
Cherry Central is using IBMs analytics technology to provide visibility of its food stuffs as they are transported from the farms to the shelves of food stores. This information is newsworthy in several ways. One is that it carries some public interest since it is about the safety of the food they consume. The story is also timely and is in the proximity of the residents and hence it would generate some positive impact on the general public. The strength of the story is shown from the way it is introduced in reference to government regulations and mandates. Every company that is operating in the food industry must conform to certain standards set by the federal government. Its weakness is that the writer has not expounded on the subject since he has quoted the press release in almost the entire article.
Let us now observe how CNBC carried the same story in their news (CNBC, 2011). It starts by showing the grave danger that currently exists with food related illnesses hitting the all time high of 48 million and 3000 deaths each year. The article as a result, highlights the need to ensure that vegetables and fruits do not get contaminated during transportation to the stores or ingredient purchaser locations. The article further explains in detail how this is done by Cherry Central in collaboration with IBM. It shows how data is tracked from harvesting the food stuffs to the time they are placed on shelves. Consumers can use their mobile phones or computers to get this information in real-time. This strengthens the need for this information reaching the public since it builds their confidence in the products.
Another recent press release is Microsoft’s, where it reported its earnings in the first quarter of the year (Microsoft, 2011). The Guardian reported this in a story explaining how the earnings were realized. The story reported by Schofield (2011) outlines the performance of each division in monetary and percentage terms. This story is newsworthy since it shows the investors as well as the prospective ones, the progress made by the company. The strength of the story is the detailed figures given by the writer which gives the precise financial position of the firm. This creates confidence a component that is crucial in investment decision making.
In conclusion, newsworthiness of a story highly depends on several factors. These include timing, relevancy and the public interest that it carries. A press release by a company therefore does not automatically mean the story will feature in the media unless it meets these conditions.