Will links in my press release help with Google search rank?

It's official. They won't. Google's head of webspam Matt Cutts answered a forum question about it yesterday and I've included the comment thread below. 

There's a lot of nonsense about this topic and I've blogged about it before. The idea of an 'SEO optimised' press release is very outdated in terms of both Google Penguin changes and how stories are picked up by journalists and bloggers.

Making sure that your information is newsworthy and well targeted to media contacts is far more important than any formatting or tricky back linking.  You want humans in newsrooms to read your headline, open your story and find it interesting enough to do something with. Speed to market and relevance is your focus.

A press release is a simple memo to let people know that something has happened or to provide an official position from your organisation. Some practioners make it out to be a lot more complex than it needs to be.

Can Press Releases count as spam links? 
7 posts by 4 authors in Webmaster Central

Note: I wouldn't expect links from press release web sites to benefit your rankings, however.
Matt_CuttsGoogle Employee