Media Alert vs. News Release

By Dana Sotoodeh


You hear the terms “media alert” and “press release” over and over as a professional in the PR world, but let’s take a minute and be honest with ourselves—do you really know the difference?

Team Snackbox presents to you the differences between a media alert and a press release and when the right time is to use them!

Media Alerts– Another name for a media alert is an “invitation to cover.” Although you don’t hear this term as much as you hear “media alert”, it may help you remember exactly what its purpose is. Media alerts are geared towards media that would be interested in covering your event. For example—If you have a sports related event—you wouldn’t send an alert to a food editor.

Their sole purpose is stated in their name. To alert the media about an upcoming event or product.  The five basic components of a media alerts are the 5 W’s.

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • Why
  • When

Media alerts are meant to be straight to the point and extremely factual. What’s their goal? To get the media to want to attend.  You often don’t gain as many responses with media alerts as you would with a press release, so the key is to keep an eye out for any reporters you think may cover the event and look for any coverage that could be gained from it.

News Releases- Although news releases are also extremely important documents that are meant to be informative for media, their formatting is much difference than the formatting for a media alert.

A news release relies on the inverted pyramid format—the same format as a well-written news story. While it includes the 5 W’s like a media alert, it includes extra “meat” to the release such as quotes and boilerplates that describe the company in greater detail.

News releases are meant to inform rather than persuade media to go out and attend.

Media alerts and press releases are two tools that are crucial in the public relations world. Make sure you are able to distinguish between the two and decide which would work best for the product or event you are trying to obtain coverage for.