Sometimes. This post from Owen Thomas at Business 2.0's blog is interesting. He points to a minor news release boilerplate edit of all things to declare the start of the iPod era.
"When did the iPod era begin? Well, you could point to the 2001 launch of the first iPod. But for those who are really into reading corporate tea leaves, we nominate July 7, 2004. That's when Apple changed the boilerplate description of the company you'll find at the bottom of every press release to include a mention of the iPod."
Google the "news release is dead" meme for a recap, but here's proof that the media read some news releases. In extreme cases, they are even reading the boilerplate (surprisingly).
Uber anal retentive clients scrutinizing the nuance of every last buzzword in a boiler plate, through several rounds of edits, might feel vindicated by this. But to me it underscores that a boilerplate should be concise, clear, updated regularly and, most importantly, SHORT.
Before some of you beat this dead horse with your keyboards, there are plenty of alternatives to a news release. Just remember that, much like blogs, news releases are a tool. We use specific tools for specific jobs.
Content vs. Format
It is the content quality of a news release, and not its format, that is truly important. Bad news releases are deleted/tossed and are usually only published in some form to punish their creators. This is not the case for blogs.
Bad blog content is published at whim in a highly-networked format that is linked, tracked back to, tagged, pushed out via RSS, aggregated by automated sites and catalogued by search engines. This is one reason why MSM metrics do not work on blogs and why it only takes one person to impact the health of your brand.