Press Release, Handout and Press Note

Press Release, Handout and Press Note

Write note on Press Release, Handout and Press Note and also explain how these are different from one another in style and structure?

Press Release:

A press release, news release, media release, press statement or video release is a written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something ostensibly newsworthy. Typically, they are mailed on a tissemis, faxed, or e-mailed to assignment editors at newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television stations, or television networks.

Tom Kelleher states in his book, Public Relations Online: Lasting Concepts for Changing Media, that “given that your news-driven publics include bona fide journalists as well as others who read and report news online, the term news release seems to work better online than press release”. Fraser Seitel also refers to press releases as being, “the granddaddy of public relations writing vehicles.”

Press/news release is one of the most important tools the public relations departments use for press relations. Public relations department of every organisation, private or public, uses press release for public relationing. But some releases are published on front and back pages with flash heads while others find their place on the spike or rest in waste paper basket. But why? What’s the reason that one release gets eminent space while the other is totally, ignored. The answer lies in the production skills and techniques of public relations officer which make the editor to decide the fate of the release. Some basic techniques of producing a good press release are given in the following lines:

( i)         It should be written on official pad of the organisation.

(ii)        The name and address of the sender should be clearly indicated together with the name, telephone number of somebody who can give any further information sought by the newspaper.

(iii)       The date should be given on the release with instructions like “immediate” or stating when it should be published.


(iv)       It should be typed on one side of the sheet in double spacing and with generous margins.

(v)        The release should have a heading showing clearly what it is all about.

(vi)       The release should be written in inverted pyramid style i.e., basic and most important fact(s) should be given in the first paragraph.

(vii)      In the body of the release the questions like: what the news; where it happened; how it happened; to whom it happened; how and why it happened etc. should be solved.

(viii)     The release should be free of ambiguity, technical and unfamiliar words and terminologies should be avoided.

(ix) It should be brief and terse.

(x) It should contain authentic facts and figures.

(xj) If individuals are mentioned, their full names and state positions should be clearly given.


A handout is something given freely or distributed free to those in need. It can refer to materials handed out for presentation purposes or to a charitable gift, among other things.

During the Great Depression, many people lived entirely on handouts of one kind or another. The term became especially popular among hobos, who developed a system of signs and symbols to describe the nature, quantity, and availability of handouts.

In more recent times, the perceived ineffectiveness of simple welfare schemes has given the term a negative connotation. “Give a hand up, not a handout” is a common remark among proponents of workfare or other welfare-to-work systems. As the issue of homelessness has become more visible and controversial, handouts to panhandlers are more often frowned upon by those who believe the behavior encourages homelessness. The term “government handout” is often applied to both welfare systems as well as corporate welfare or pork. The implication is that a handout is unearned and undeserved, unlike a “donation” or “contribution”.

Handouts may also refer to short, usually single-page assignments distributed in high school or college.

According to John Hoheberg, author of the book “The Professional Journalist”, handout is a contemptuous name bestowed by newspapers long ago on the public relations news release. Similarly, other experts also don’t see any difference between a handout and a press release. But many others, especially in Pakistan use this term for a press statement issued by some government organisation especially PID in general circumstances for information of publics.

Writing techniques of a handout are mainly the same as that of a press release* However, a handout on the one hand, highlights President, Prime Minister and Ministers or some others top officials’ activities and on the other, it is meant for general people, so it should be written in simple, effective language with all important facts recorded objectively and honestly, and in the feast possible words.

It should answer the 5Ws and IH.

It should be in inverted pyramid style

It should not be deemed a pure publicity or propaganda tool.

It should be brief and to the point.

It should not contain unfamiliar and highly technical words and phrases.

The length of handout should be in correlation to the importance of the event.

It should not contain full text of the speech of the source unless it is extremely ‘ necessary.

If there is reference to an earlier event, its details in a few words must be given.

Press Note:

A press note is neither a news story, nor a press release, nor a handout which leave the, sub-editor at liberty to publish it or the otherwise. It is an account of government view point issued on important and urgent occasions. Newspapers or electronic media have no choice but to publish or air it in the same language and with the same contents. So as far as its print or broadcast is concerned that is no problem but as far as its understanding and comprehension by the general public is concerned it should be taken into account while producing or writing a press note. Hence, it should be terse, brief, timely, understandable, concise, and specific and should contain all relevant facts and figures in their true perspective. It should be written in the policy frame work of the government.

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