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September 09, 2010

How to Cite a Press Release in APA Style

Chelsea blog by Chelsea Lee

When you’re researching a cutting-edge topic, there are few sources of information more of the moment than press releases. Citing them in APA Style is very simple. As for any reference list entry, the four elements you’ll need are the author, the date, the title (with a description of form in square brackets, when the form is something different from the norm), and the source (e.g., a URL). Here are some example references for press releases:

American Psychological Association. (2010). Today’s superheroes send wrong image to boys, say researchers [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2010/08/macho-stereotype-unhealthy.aspx

 

The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. (2010). Administration officials continue travel across the country holding “Recovery Summer” events, project site visits [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/administration-officials-continue-travel-across-country-holding-recovery-summer-eve

 

King Fish Media. (2010). The perfect marriage of content and technology: Is social media the new CRM? [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-perfect-marriage-of-content-and-technology--is-social-media-the-new-crm-100760344.html

Determining Authorship for Press Releases

Determining authorship is probably the hardest part of writing the press release reference list entry. It helps to know that press releases are typically written by an organization about itself (their typical audience is journalists, who use them as a foundation for their own stories). So when you find press releases on an organization’s own website without a specific author attribution, you can assume the organization to be the author (this is true for the first example above). When a reference includes a larger organization as well as a department or office within that organization, the larger entity comes first in the entry (as in The White House example).

Indexed Press Releases

Press releases also may be indexed on commercial distribution services, such as PR Newswire, which is the source of the third example above. However, PR Newswire is not the author of the third release; it is just the publisher—the author is actually indicated at the bottom of the release (in this case, King Fish Media). For these indexed releases, be sure to identify the proper author of the release when writing your reference list entry.

Other Details

In the text, you would cite a press release just like any other source, by using the author and year. If you use more than one press release per author per year (say, two from APA in 2010), call them 2010a and 2010b (whichever title comes first alphabetically will be 2010a). The description Press release in square brackets aids the reader in understanding the reference type, and finally the retrieval URL is given. Because press releases are published documents (not, for example, wikis, which are updated constantly), a retrieval date is not necessary.

Now you should be ready to cite press releases in your APA Style paper.

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