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What’s the difference between an article and a press release?
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It’s important to make the distinction between articles used in article marketing and press releases intended for news media, because they each involve very different styles of writing.

Sometimes folks will try to submit press releases in their article submissions thinking that press releases and articles are the same thing, but those two guys are totally different species.

They do have some things in common though, so I can totally understand where the confusion can slip in.

In an effort to set the record straight I'd like to go over how Article Marketing and Online Press Releases are similar, how they're different, and how you can morph a press release into an educational article for Article Marketing.

Let's start with the similarities…

Article Marketing and Online Press Releases do have a few things in common:

  • They both involve writing (duh, right? ;-) )
  • They both involve building backlinks to a website
  • They both have SEO benefits (they can increase your search engine rankings for your keywords if done properly)
  • They have a submission process–articles used in article marketing and press releases both have channels of distribution that allow them to reach publishers.

Those are the basic things they have in common, but that's pretty much where the similarities end.

Here's how articles used in Article Marketing and Online Press Releases are different:

Time Sensitive vs. Evergreen

With press releases, usually the information is time sensitive and makes some sort of announcement, whereas the content provided in an article should be timeless (ideally) and educational.

Journalist vs. Teacher

You may talk about your own business in a press release, but only in a way that sounds like news (you cannot submit a hyped-up sales letter as a press release). If you write about your own business it should be in a style that sounds like you are writing as a third-party, sort of like a journalist in a newspaper.

With article marketing, you will not write about yourself or your business in the article body, and you can't quote yourself or refer to your business products or website in the article body, even if it's in a 3rd person style.

With your articles, the appropriate place to reference your business and website is your resource box, which sits below your article. 

Publishers of educational articles like to ensure that the content they're providing their readers is purely educational and not sales oriented at all, so if they see you talking about yourself or your business in your article body, your article will likely be deemed "promotional" or "self-serving".

The #1 reason why publishers decline articles is for being "promotional" (so don't do that! ;-) ).

Part of the difference between a press release and an article used in article marketing is the difference between a journalist and a teacher. Usually a journalist will focus on news items and time sensitive material, while a teacher will be instructing students (readers) how to do something, or explaining some concept that is timeless. 

Speed vs. Endurance

Article marketing is a long term marketing strategy that results in an increase of links over time (after submitting an article the number of publishers who re-publish the article multiplies and the article popularity tends to go up over time, which results in an increase in traffic), whereas the time-sensitive material conveyed in a press release usually limits the burst of traffic or links generated by a press release to a short span of time.

The upside of press releases is that they receive a different type of exposure than articles. Press releases are published on networks of news syndication websites, news portals and sometimes they even reach large news websites. Also, Google seems to value what it considers to be “news”, as it’s fresh and up-to-the-minute information, and therefore content appearing on news syndication sites may rank higher faster in results pages than content published on an article directory or website.

The other side of the coin is that content considered to be news is time sensitive, which means that a high ranking for a press release can be brief – when fresh news is published, the rank of older press releases falls.

So, while a press release with its time sensitive information can make a strong start and become less relevant very quickly, articles tend to increase the traffic they drive to websites the longer that they are published.

Also, as time passes, the likelihood that your article will be picked up by more and more sites increases, which results in an increase in backlinks to your site and which also effects your search engine ranking. 

Can a press release be reworked to be an educational article?

It depends–if your topic is not about yourself or your website or products, then there's a good chance that you can bounce an article off of a press release.

If however the entire press release is about your business, you or your products, it's not going to work :-) . Remember, an article cannot promote you, your business, your website or your products or affiliate products. 

However, if your press release is about something more general, for instance let's say you're an physical trainer, and your press release was relaying the results of a survey you recently took about "the exercise habits of college students", then you could possibly convert the content into an appropriate article marketing format.

Here's how:

  • Word count. Be sure that your converted press release conforms to article marketing word counts. Usually press releases are very short, but with article marketing usually the shortest you can go is 400 words. If you can, shoot for the word count of 700-800 words, since that is a length that is attractive to most publishers. This means that you may need to add more information to your original piece to fit the new word count goal. Be sure that the information you add is useful and not just filler (I know you already knew that, but I had to say it!)
  • Confine mentions of your own business, yourself, and your products to your resource box. Don't talk about yourself (even in the 3rd person) in your article body.
  • Limit your links. In the article body, the fewer the links the better. If you have links in your article they should never be to your own website or websites associated with your business, but it's fine to link to non-related sites that just offer more information. If you do link out in your article body, try to put your links "below the fold", meaning below the first 3 paragraphs. The reason for this is that having a link straight off in your article is distracting to a reader, and may lead them away from your article prematurely. If you're going to include a link, you'll want to put it after the 3rd paragraph of the article.
  • Do not include any wording such as "For Immediate Release&quo
    t;–that is something you see on press releases sometimes, but it's not appropriate with article marketing.
  • Don't include dates or a release date. Remember, the object with article marketing is to submit timeless pieces of content that can bring value to readers for years and years to come. If you put a date in your article, you have immediately put a time stamp on it. Even if the content is timeless, if the article has a date on it and is a few years old the reader may think that the information is outdated. It's better to leave out all dates–in a regular article there would not be any reason to include a date anyway.

I would say this across the board–do not try to submit a press release as an educational article. Those two types of content are not interchangeable, so you'll need to do some tweaking to make a press release suitable to Article Marketing. 

Since these two mediums require such different writing styles, it may be a good idea to start from scratch when you're writing your articles so that you can be sure to make your strongest impact with your efforts. 

Photo Credit: evergreenOriginally uploaded by gnuru

NOTE: Please be aware this content may now be outdated. For the latest quality content on how to build massive publicity for your website, please go to The vWriter Blog - Helping Businesses Grow Traffic, Build Engagement, and "Be Everywhere"

12 Responses to “What’s the difference between an article and a press release?”

  1. I follow your posts for quite a long time and should tell that your articles are always valuable to readers.

  2. Jessica W. says:

    I am always eager for information about SEO. Keep up the great work! Thanks!

  3. Ricardo A. says:

    I’m glad I was able to find this article. It clearly points out the differences of both types.

    While this may be quite obvious to experienced writers, it’s very helpful for people like me who’re just learning the ropes.


  4. kelly says:

    Good info about the differences between a press release and an article! THANK YOU!

  5. Norman Macey says:

    Hi Steve,
    That was an entertaining and informative post, id only others would take a leaf from your book life on the Internet would be a lot easier.


  6. This is good in terms of search engine optimization. Naught looks to rag towards them than that.Amusingly enough, this is just was talked about ten years ago at the last blackhat con about SEO in ’95!

  7. Mana Kesey says:

    thank you for writing on it are there feeds to your blog? I’d like to subscribe

  8. Steve Shaw says:

    Hi Mana,

    Yes, here is the feed:


    Also in the sidebar, look under “Subscribe” and there is a feed link there as well.

    Thank you for subscribing!

  9. Difference between article and press release is rightly explained here.thanks for it..

  10. Great article! Thank you for clearing this up for me.

  11. Nick Stango says:

    Nice Article, pun intended! I really wasn’t sure what the difference was until now. This clarifies the issue nicely and also the importance of not confusing the two, I would say just knowing not to talk about yourself in the articles is the most important lesson here. Thank you,
    Nick Stango

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