Press Release to stories
The following is an analysis of the transformation from a press release to a written story. It deals with a lawsuit that was filed against the Dannon Company, Inc. A copy of Dannon's press release can be found here.
January 23, 2008 - Reuters - Dannon sued over "probiotic" bacteria claims
Of the three articles that I reviewed, this is the only one that was written prior to the press release. It actually states in the article that the Dannon Company was unaware or the lawsuit that was against them. It is pretty interesting that the same phrase "the claims of our products and the clinical studies which support them" is used as an initial reply to the news and also in the press release that was published a day later. In this article there is very minimal use of Dannon official statements. Most of the resources and quotes came from the lawsuit. Because of this the article seems to have a bit of a negative tone.
January 24, 2008 - AP - Woman says Dannon overstates benefits of some yogurt products
This article is much more positive for the company. It came out on the same day as the press release and the press release is used and quoted many times in the article. Even the title makes the article seem more positive for the company. It puts focus on what a woman says rather than on what claims are against the company. Unlike the third article I reviewed, this one had scientists saying positive things that agree with the claims of Dannon. Even the last sentence of the article makes the claims against the company look like a joke.
January 25, 2008 - ABC News - Dannon Yogurt Faces Lawsuit Over False Advertising
This article has the most balanced amount of information for both sides of the issue, but the way it is presented makes it seem a little more negative. It at least has a little more question or controversy associated with it based on the way things are worded. As aforementioned it also includes a doctor's negative statements concerning probiotic bacteria that go against the claims of Dannon yogurt. In some ways the doctor's statements agree with and support the lawsuit brought against Dannon.
I found this assignment to be very educational. It was very interesting to see the difference between the article written before the press release came out and the article that was written on the same day as the press release. The article was definitely affected by the press release. When dealing with something like a lawsuit, I suppose it is very important to get a statement out as soon as possible. Because if there isn’t any official statements from the company, the only thing the press has to use as a resource is the claims made in the lawsuit or material that the company may have that isn’t current or specific to the case.
The press release is simple and direct. It has firm statements that the company and the company spokesman, Michael Neuwirth stand by. Even when given extra questions the spokesman goes back to some of the same things that are written in the press release. The press release states the research that supports the claims of their products and even goes as far as to give resources as the where the scientific research can be reviewed. The press release really showed how confident the Dannon Company is in their products and the research that supports the benefits of their products. That confidence makes for some good quotes that reporters use in their articles.
A press release can certainly direct (or redirect) strong media attention. The press needs information to write stories and the object of a press release is to make sure that at least some of the information that the press has comes from the company and puts the company in a positive light. Press releases give the public something that a company wants them to believe.