Rest in peace press release, or maybe not?

By: Donald Smith

10/13/16

 

The other day I was surfing the internet looking for a blog topic this week. In my search I started typing “Are pr,” and the first two suggestions were about whether or not the press release is dead. This left me in bewilderment because I believed press releases were still a staple in the foundation of public relations communication. However, it seems the industry is split on the death of the press release as well.

“Press Release,” by True Blue Communications

In a Forbes’ article it discusses the flaws in press releases. One flaw was the fact press releases are difficult to measure in their effectiveness. This is because there is no way to accurately record how many people saw the release. Also, even if they saw the release there is no guarantee they read it. Another flaw was press releases are essentially a one-way communication tool due to the lack in ability to communicate with the company’s customers. Instead, they are only given the opportunity to look at the message, not interact with it. Other flaws mentioned were Google no longer allows press releases to boost SEO, and can actually ding websites for the backlinks and duplicate content. The last flaw discussed in the article was journalist, who work for some of the largest news outlets, admitted they rarely have time to keep up with them.

On the notion journalists are not much of a fan about press releases, there is TechCrunch Editor Mike Butcher. In his blog he goes on a rant about how fed up with all of the press releases he receives. His main point was, “Mostly, ‘press releases’ are written in the way a PR’s client would write a news story. They are usually pretty rambling and designed to please the client (read: stroke their ego) rather than assist the journalist to get shit done, and fast. So, I think the press release format is DEAD.”

Those points hold ground for why the press release should be retired, but there are others who believe press releases still have some life in them.

Aly Saxe, founder and CEO of Iris, believes press releases are still effective. They just need a little re-strategizing. In an article she wrote for Bulldog Reporter she wrote about a story where the only media coverage she got was from knowing how to pitch to journalists directly. This means to personalize each pitch to fit the individual reporter. It does take time, but a higher success rate will be achieved because reporters can tell when they are part of a mass email.

Another person who believes press releases still hold relevance in today’s communication channels is Jill Rosenthal from inkhouse. In her blog she says press releases may have not be a main communication tactic anymore, but are still necessary. The reason is because it is difficult to get a message to stick in people’s minds. So, companies need to tell their stories in various ways to get the message to stick, and press releases can help in this aspect by being another communications avenue.

Therefore, press releases are not dead. They just need to be used with a stronger strategy and with more care.

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