My first professional news release (before email was a thing)

by Frank L. Williams

In November 1993, five short months after I graduated from the N.C. State University Department of Communication, I wrote and distributed my first press release for a paying client. The client was my pledge brother at Theta Chi Fraternity, Montie Roland, who had recently started a safety consulting business.

We took the time to develop a media list, and either distributed the release via fax or U.S. mail (I can’t recall which, but do know that this was before email became a means of distribution — which means I’m getting OLD).

In my naivete, I put a byline on the press release — not because I wanted to see my name in the paper, but because I simply didn’t know better.

In early December, the release was printed in its entirety — including a byline crediting me as the author — by The Pilot in Southern Pines, N.C. I recall being surprised and amused by the byline.

It’s hard for me to believe that more than 26 years have passed since my first press release for a paying client. I’m amazed at how little I knew then, and how much I’ve learned through experience since that time.

The world of business communication has been transformed many times over since my first press release, and our profession is an increasingly digital one, but the ability to clearly and effectively put a client’s message into words is and will remain a critical skill in the public relations and strategic communication arena.

Frank L. Williams

Frank is the founder and president of Pioneer Strategies.