The use of news releases is common in the field of public relations, the aim of which is to attract favorable media attention to the PR firm's client.
Some public relations firms send out video news releases (VNRs) which are pre-taped video programs that can be aired intact by TV stations. Often, the VNRs are aired without the stations' identifying or attributing them as such. Many regard the unattributed airing of VNRs as a breach of journalistic ethics -- but some TV stations do yield to the temptation, filling airtime while simultaneously foregoing the trouble and expense of sending camera crews to go out and shoot original news footage.
TV news viewers can often detect the use of VNRs within television newscasts, for example many movie-star "interviews" are actually VNRs, taped on a set which is located at the movie studio and decorated with the movie's logo. Other obvious examples of VNRs masquerading as news footage might include videotape of particular medical "breakthroughs" which are really produced and distributed by pharmaceutical companies for the purpose of selling new medicines.
News releases have been a large source of criticism against various types of journalists, who sometimes rely on them heavily. For example, many articles in the Video Game and Business press are recycled press releases. Some people critize writers for creating articles in this way, because this consititutes free advertising for the company in question, especially if it is not contrasted with criticism of that company in that same article, and because sloppier news outlets will publish anything released by a PR office they are familiar with while ignoring possibly better stories.
How To Write A News Release
Sometimes a news release is embargoed -- that is, news organizations are requested not to report the story until a specified time. For example, news organizations usually receive a copy of Presidential speeches several hours in advance. In such cases, the news organizations generally do not break the embargo, lest they fail to receive future copies of advance, embargoed material.