Chapter 7

The New Rules of News Releases

Guess what? Press releases have never been exclusively for the press.

My first job in the mid-1980s was on a Wall Street trading desk. Every day, I would come to work and watch the Dow Jones Telerate and Reuters screens as they displayed specialized financial data, economic information, and stock prices. The screens also displayed newsfeeds, and within these newsfeeds were press releases. For decades, financial market professionals have had access to company press releases distributed through BusinessWire, PR Newswire and other electronic press release distribution services. And they weren't just for publicly traded corporations; any company's release would appear in trading rooms within seconds.

I distinctly remember traders intently watching the newswires for any signs of market-moving events. Often the headline of a press release would cause frenzy: “Did you see? IBM is acquiring a software company!” “It's on the wire; Boeing just got a 20-plane order from Singapore Airlines!” For years, markets often moved and stock prices rose and fell based on the raw press release content issued directly by companies, not on the news stories written minutes or hours later by reporters from newswire outlets like Reuters and Dow Jones (and later Bloomberg).

Press releases have also been available to professionals working within corporations, government agencies, and law firms, all of which have had access to raw press releases through services like ...

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