“What is…” Wednesday – What is Public Relations? Abbie S. Fink’s Take
January 5, 2011
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So, I (Alison, that is) was reading a tweet from FOX 10’s Keith Yaskin yesterday, and it said: ENRICH YOUR PITCH: Don't use "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE."

Believe it or not, it was the first part of the tweet – Enrich Your Pitch – that struck me more than the second half.

All too often, when I talk to reporters, producers and other media about best practices, they complain to me how public relations people are always messing up “Pitch Letters,” “Media Alerts,” “Pressers,” “Press Releases” and the list goes on.

This leads me to one conclusion. We need us some clarity.

First, to my news friends: Believe it or not, we public relations practitioners do all sorts of different things. And as such, we have all sorts of different tactics in our communications toolboxes.

The one I think Keith is referring to is a News Release, often also called a Press Release. This is that formal document with a centered heading, boilerplate and a general news announcement. When sending to anyone aside from New Hire Editors or Annoucement folks, I generally just call them “background information,” but I digress.

News releases are, in fact, totally different than what we public relations practitioners refer to as Pitches. (I personally call them story ideas, plain and simple, but I digress).

A pitch (hate the term pitch letter so refuse to even note it here other than in contempt) is a targeted story idea pitched to a specific member of the media based on his/her beat or topical news of the day using our client, company, brand as the expert source within that story. If Keith was, indeed, referring to a pitch in his tweet, then I agree wholeheartedly that there should never be “For Immediate Release” anywhere near it.

Different than both is a Media Advisory, sometimes called a Media Alert. I call them ADVs since that is how I abbreviate them in my folders, but I digress.

These are more event-focused and make special note in the format of who, what, when and where something is going on. Smart public relations practitioners always include visuals and additional information on potential interviews as well.

There are also a litany of other terms we use such as calendar listings or alerts, source materials, etc…

But here is the thing. No matter what we call them, if the media is using a blanket term and judging them all the same, we have a major problem.

Above I tried to help explain some general differences but I would love to hear from both the media and fellow public relations practitioners on the topic. For media, did you know we consider all of these things different? For public relations practitioners like me, if the media consider them all the same thing, how can we make that work?

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio


  1. And, for the record, I am not a “For Immediate Release” kind of girl. I much prefer to regale the media with my thoughts on Notre Dame Football. Keith, that was for you.

  2. Yes, many different approaches for many different types of information.

  3. I wonder if news releases sent out by the promotions departments at TV stations include: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. I’m betting yes.

  4. Brennan says:

    AMAZING! I love this post! I am sharing it with friends! =D

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