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Media & Design

Friday, November 03, 2006

Wishing the press release a happy 100th birthday

Search Engine Watch posted an article earlier this week about the 100th birthday of the press release. As Search Engine Watch recounts the story:

On October 28, 1906, at least 50 people lost their lives when a three-car train of the Pennsylvania Railroad's newly equipped electric service jumped a trestle at Atlantic City, NJ, and plunged into the Thoroughfare creek.

That afternoon, Ivy Lee, who some consider to be the father of modern PR, created the first press release. The Pennsylvania Railroad was one of his clients. Following the accident, Lee not only convinced the railroad to distribute a public statement, he also convinced them to provide a special train to get reporters to the scene of the accident.

The New York Times was so impressed with this innovative approach to corporate communications that it printed the first press release—verbatim—on Oct. 30, 1906 as a "Statement from the Road." In the weeks that followed, both newspapers and public officials effusively praised Pennsylvania Railroad for its openness and honesty.

Now, a week past the actual birthdate, I got to thinking of my first experience with a press release. I was one week into a great learning experience at a dotcom, which eventually fell as so many others did. Something marginally newsworthy came up and our internal PR folks were putting together a release about whatever it was we were excited about.

The funniest thing I remember about the release was that our PR folks were creating quotes that our CEO had "said". For some reason, in my naivety, I'd always assumed that quotes in press releases were actually thought of, processed, and spoken by whomoever they were attibuted. It was genuinely hysterical to see someone go through the process of getting approved from someone to publish something that they'd supposedly said.

Oh well, it just makes it interesting to think about what media logically drives us to out of self-imposed necessity.

posted by silinx | 11:45:00 PM

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