PR Playback: The Inception of the Press Release
Extra extra! Read all about it! Or in today’s world, tweet all about it! As we see relevant in our current political climate, open conversations about current controversial topics is a staple on our news feeds. Although there can sometimes be transparency in the facts posted on our favorite social media platforms… there is a constant in finding the truth in the muddled mess of information- hearing it from the source (or the source’s publicity department).
In 1906, Ivy Lee (who we have mentioned previously as the first publicist of a major American company) was at the forefront in creating the press release, when disaster struck one of his biggest clients: Pennsylvania Railroad, in which one of their train’s had crashed and left more than 50 people dead. The news went “viral” and Ivy Lee realized the need to release a statement from the company stating the details of the incident and what Pennsylvania railroad will do to better the situation.
So what’s the big deal about releasing a statement? It opened the door for the press release to become widely used- bridging the gap between the company and the public. The press release is still in use today- giving information to the masses, starting conversations about newsworthy moments, and instilling trust in organizations to the public.
So for further reference, when your favorite TV show suddenly gets canceled due to an unknown scandal and the internet blows up with hypothetical explanations from unnamed sources… make sure to think like Ivy Lee and check with the company to see if they have released a statement or press release on the incident. You are always best served by going to the source.