Press Releases and Plagiarism: What You Need to Know

Is copying a press release plagiarism?

When it comes to plagiarism, press releases are a gray area for a number of reasons. A press releases is published specifically to relay newsworthy information to journalists. Therefore, a well-written press release should be picked up and published without change.

However, media outlets have fired journalists for misrepresenting a press release as an original story. With many coming to their defense having openly stated that a press release can be published as-is.

So what is the best policy?



Journalists should always cite their sources. Writing an article on a company that has published a press release makes it relatively easy. As long as they attribute the article to its original source, journalists are free to quote directly from the press release.

Pull Quotes

A press release can be directly quoted as long as the article is properly cited. Citations can be added to the bottom of your article as a reference list or placed prior to the quote itself. Example: In Wednesday’s press conference, Mayor John Smith expressed his excitement about the expansion, “We are looking forward to the positive impact this expansion will have on our community.”

Why all the fuss?

Beyond ethics, there are a couple of reasons why this has become an issue. 

One issue is meeting deadlines. Press release distribution services allow journalists to quickly find articles to publish in order to meet strict deadlines. When a journalist references a press release word-for-word as their own article without citation, this is plagiarism.

The second issue concerns online publications. Search engines will punish duplicate content. What does that mean? Popular media outlets are placed at the top of search engine results. Everyone else who references the press release word-for-word, will be placed lower on the search results. This limits an article’s reach and potential engagement.

Plagiarism is Theft

Plagiarism is not just theft, it’s also a misrepresentation that the article is a journalist’s own work. Plagiarizing a press release is misleading the audience about where the information has come from. Successful press releases perform well when shared by a trusted source.

To learn more about our press release distribution services, contact us today!

Anthony Santiago is Director of Marketing at Newswire. With over a decade of experience in PR, he helps ensure that clients understand the value of brand messaging and reach.

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