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Weekly Online Poll

Is the press release dead?


  • Yes
  • No
Background: With the advent of social media, an... Show background


The press has always been lazy and in need of "ghosts" to flesh out stories. The press release simply has a new incarnation that includes (a) offers of exclusivity to major press outlets, (b) twitter-sized sound "bytes" and (c) videos that go viral. The term "press release" may be replaced by something else, the function stays the same.
Press releases are still valuable to the media and to the public. But they need to be used in conjunction with other media, more than ever before. At WhatTheyThink.com, an online media outlet serving the printing and publishing industries, we routinely run vendor and other releases, as well as our own, and our readers do peruse them. But for our own releases, we also FaceTweetLink them (new verb!) to increase visibility.
More alive than ever if done right! The easier the press release writer makes it for the publication to publish, the more likely it will do so. Just as the era of "mass resumés" is over, so should be the era of mass press releases. Do the editor's work for the time-strapped editor and the editor will reward you by running your release, probably almost entirely untouched.
Yes -- social media has sprouted a forest of opportunity for companies and smart PR pros to reach their audiences.

But NO -- the news release is not dead. Social media is not *yet* mainstream. There are enough people not "doing it." Smart PR pros know that there are enough traditional media outlets that reach their audiences, and that a news release is still one of the best ways to get the news out.

@Mike Driehorst
The Press Release is alive and kicking - the media has not fully embraced social media yet and, with limited resources, they are not likely to devote the time to sifting through it to obtain initial information. They will use it to augment what they receive in Press Releases. I do suggest Press Release be written differently now - much shorter and more too the point with social media links included.
Press releases are more valuable than ever as they get more pick up and placement than in the past due to in many cases automated electronic placement, are shared through social platforms and carry a much longer shelf life via search.

Rodney Mason, CMO
Press release's heart is still ticking. Many companies are seeking "fresh" ways to enliven it, but the end title of the product is a press release. Until the name changes, it will stay be here. Press releases can be shared in more ways than ever (twitter, FB, client blogs), but they haven't evaporated... yet
Saying the press release is dead is like people saying TV was dead with the advent of the web. As communication professionals, we simply have more communication channels to deal with. News and information have become more democratized and more of a 2-way conversation vs. a 1-way dissemination of information.

Guy Borgford
News requires perspective. Background, history, concurrent events. Crowdsourced information served up as news is really editorial, no matter how well-informed.
No, of course not. We might feel compelled to call it other things ... media release, for instance. But that Tweet is more effective if it includes a link to something in the media, which implies that a third party gatekeeper felt it was significant enough of an item to include in the media. Furthermore, to assume that social media is adequate to reach anything but a specific slice of the populace is mistaken. Relying on Twitter is akin to relying strictly on one's own internal lists. Yes, there can be a certain viral quality to social media, but how many media releases truly have viral potential?
I hope not, we rely on them for marketing purposes, and very much enjoy writing them and communicating with the media world via them.
Olivia Scott,
New Business Manager,
VTR North Post Production House
Anonymous User
The amount time, energy, resources wasted on press releases is truly one of the great mysteries of our time. Surely there must be some ROI for them to persist (one hopes!). When I see a press release, I may take note, but presume if there's a release in my inbox, it's already out there, and no longer news.
In form, yes, or almost. In function, no. The ability to get content in a concise form will always be valuable, it's what social media is built on. Placing that content in an 8.5x11 piece of paper or even in an email has limited sharability. Communicators that can package what they're saying in a shorter format that is sharable and in the form of the social web is where the intersection of the two take place. @bradmays
Not even on a respirator! We still employ the ever potent press release and chunky media materials too. Most of the media we work with seem to appreciate that. We can't count on our target contacts getting all the info they may need via the maze of online and social media outlets, though yes, we do also post them to key online and social network channels.
News releases are just one tool that communicators can use to get their message out. We've found them to be a great way to stay in front of reporters and begin a conversation. Often when we call to discuss a release, the conversation moves past that topic and becomes an exchange of ideas that benefit both the reporter (with a good story) and our clients (with coverage).
Age plays a big part in this. It seems the older population still prefer the news release as they are not technically savvy. To the younger/business population, they prefer social media as a means of communication. We still need both, but I do see the press release becoming extinct.
Press releases are still a necessary evil. Many investors, analysts, journalists, etc still look to the company press release as the "official" word, and it is still the most efficient way to reach the broadest audience in this hyper-fast world. However, the press release is just one channel. The number of channels that PR professionals have to contend with these days has multiplied. The days of simply putting a release over the wire is gone; now, once the release is out, the same news must be disseminated via personalized email outreach, on myriad social channels, intranets, etc. Different audiences prefer different channels.
The one failing of social media is that it requires seeing postings. If one is following many people or companies, it is very easy to simply miss a posting. I miss many of my friends' Facebook and Twitter notices simply because I follow a lot of people and only check them a couple of times a day. Press releases are a useful tool in communications and will continue to be used as such.
The press release is not dead but, like all living things, it is increasingly difficult to get the attention of the target audience. The main challenge is to have and execute an effective 'distribution' strategy that ensure exposure to all desired recipients, e.g., customers, influentials, etc.
Press releases are bolstered by social media and vice versa. The two channels are interdependent for successful news delivery. 140 characters isn't always enough space to tell the story and press release won't always reach customers effectively. But, a balanced approach to both will increase impressions and boost outcomes.
Press Releases will always exist in some form. They will still be needed because your or your clients' Facebook pages and Twitter accounts may not be on every relevant press contact's radar. Not every media contact will accept your friend request, like your page or follow your tweets.
First, I have found that not all media outlets like the term "press release" since it sounds like it is designed for newspapers. I always use the term "news release."
I still find news releases valuable tools. They enable me to sit down with a client and develop an "approved" message and highlight key message points. That information can then be altered as necessary for social media messages.
With media cutbacks---and reporters fearful of making mistakes--many appreciate well-written news releases they can use "as is" if necessary.

John Landsberg
Bottom Line Communications
Kansas City
I think the real question is: What form has the press release morphed into?

Whether or not the standard couple of paragraphs announcing a company's latest breakthrough and mailed off to everyone and their brother for publication is still a valid route is to be debated. But I believe that the "press release" has morphed into something completely different.

Maybe it's a YouTube video that goes viral, maybe it's a "created" news story that gets picked up on AP. Maybe it's a blog post or an email blast that gets the viral nod and winds up in the inboxes of millions.

It's still a press release regardless of it's current form.
Long live the press release!
I would agree that the "traditional" news release is dead, i.e., a news release that hasn't been search optimized, embedded with links, podcasts, video, etc. But to say the press release is dead is ridiculous. That's like saying traditional print or broadcast advertising is dead.
A press release will be in the tool bag of a marketer for the foreseeable future. A press release has never been the only tool of a marketer, nor should it be now. To get the word out about your event, you have always had to work your network. Social networking just makes this part of the process easier!
What I think has really changes is how we deliver press releases and how we write them. No longer do we mail press releases, we email them. Social media sites, like Twitter, have shortened down what we should include in a press release.
1.Grab people’s attention
2.Tell them why to care
3.Give them the "who, what, when, and where", and be done.
Think about what will be visible in an email, without making someone scroll down. Make use of the subject part of the email to grab the editor’s attention.
Do not waste words. No editor wants to spend time figuring out what you event is.
While I'm excited to see the advertising community engage in a dialogue about public relations, I'm saddened to see it's around the format of a single document. It's akin to me creating a poll about RGB and CMYK.

Not to say the PR industry is not spinning its wheels with the same discussion.

Do we need to make sure we're using the best solution for our clients? Yes. Does that include social media? Maybe. Does that include a news release? Maybe. Both? Maybe.

At the end of the day, we all need to pay more attention to the audience and overall client goals...and ensuring there's actual news in the first place. From there the "format" all but presents itself.

Oh and just to make sure this is classified as a rant -- asking or declaring one thing is dead over another is oversimplifying the argument. It's link bait. As demonstrated by this comment, it's effective link bait. But come on.

OK, switching back to decaf now.
No, they are not dead. Aren't you supposed to be doing the research and reporting here?

Familiarize yourself with the local, state and national laws and regulations which require releases. Look at the reach of traditional media vs. social media for all market segments. See how each market segment is reached and how poorly a communication strategy will perform if the practitioners don't understand the best strategy and tactic to reach their appropriate publics.

Look at serious research, unlike these silly self-selected polls, that show how many journalists still not only appreciate releases - but, they actually opt-in to receive them.

Turn the question inward and honestly determine how many AdAge articles were spawned or enhanced thanks to releases. Again, be honest about it.

Do that and maybe your reputation for click-savvy polls will be replaced with the journalism and media savvy you once could claim.
It benefits both company and media outlet in ways that new media fads and trends can't (yet).

The news release is not dead, nor will it be. It offers benefits to both company and media outlet. A well-written, in-depth, detailed news release offers information to reporters that would be much harder and time-consuming to find otherwise. (They could in most cases, but time and deadlines dictate expediency.) The release might be rewritten into a story, be used as reference material, or even held as reference material for a future story.

A well-written, content focused release also lends itself well to search engines such as Google News.

The most important aspect though to companies is that a story via a media outlet, especially a highly respected one, is more credible than company tweets or user gossip. Word of mouth is important, as is speed in many cases, and yes, social media can help companies establish relationships with customers. But this is often not done well and the company loses credibility and potential customers as its overuse or misuse comes across as spam and irrelevant.

Such is generally not the result with news releases and stories generated from mainstream media, even if the result is a sound bite at best. So while companies should investigate and embrace all forms of media and use those appropriate to their audiences, they should also realize that relevancy and credibility are still paramount regardless of audience (and that audience's preferred or current fad of communication).

The bigger issue is still tracking the effects of news releases and media delivery mechanism in such as way that one can determine reliability and likely outcome, and not just impressions or volume.

I do strategy/policy analysis and customer insight/effects prediction using game theoretic prediction models and critical analysis, so the use of PR as an influence method (and ways to measure its effects w/o polls, interests me).
Down with the press release! Let's innovate and find new ways to have REAL conversations that create IMPACT....in 140 characters or less, of course.

Ok, maybe the press release itself isn't going anywhere anytime soon, but it's importance/relevance is definitely changing. With layoffs, shrinking ad pages and more journalists (seemingly than ever) moving into PR, many reporters still welcome a press release as a way of getting all the info they need on a story quickly. But the way news is delivered is certainly changing, and in a few years a "press release" will look very different. I think social media will play a big part of that reshaping.

Should it die - yes. Has it significantly lost it's effectiveness - yes. But will people, especially those that may not understand new technologies, let it die - No. Therefore, it is not dead.

The press release is dead - long live the press release.
Having just scored a big, fat feature article and other goodness for one of our clients via an old-school press release, I've got to ask, "huh? who said that?!"

The press release remains a staple and should not be blown off for an SMO (Social Media Only) plan just because clients (and agencies) are all goggly-eyed over the Facebook and Twitter.

Especially in smaller markets and for smaller businesses -- too many are jumping into social media without fully learning how to do it right -- or if it's right for them. Forgetting these "old-fashioned" tools is like going out of the house without your pants because you're so in love with your brand new shirt.
Just discussed this on The BeanCast this week. (I will resist the urge to link spam. ;)

The general consensus is that considered, fact-based, informational (and non-promotional) documents that are well-targeted to the right press outlets are still invaluable. Trouble is, this isn't happening and instead the market is being flood with promotional clap-trap masquerading as press-releases.

The debate is not really over whether the document is needed. The debate is over why we aren't training folks to understand a release is not a direct marketing form letter that should be blasted out to a list. It's a one-one-relationship piece with a press contact.

Bob Knorpp
Host of The BeanCast
Host of Ad Age Outlook
My opinions are my own and not that of Ad Age
Wonderful Observations by All
In my world of launching brands, driving innovation or just sustaining a merchandising strategy. The Press or News Release is the core principle. It does not matter whether it reaches a different form of media prior to going to News ... the most valuable info seems to be Releases of any sort with quality content.
"G" Man
(I voted no but I just finally found the way to comment.)
Did you mean NEWS release? Press release is no longer used because only print publications have presses. I've known TV and radio contacts who throw away anything called a "press" release.
First you get to know the media, by reading, watching or if possible meeting in person. Always email or tweet. It's a different world out there. Make sure it's NEWS -- topical and possibly controversial.
Dead, no way. A press release that's done well is often times published as is, saving someone on the receiving end valuable time. Also, by writing press releases WELL from an SEO perspective-- such as incorporating the right keywords and hyperlinks -- the greater the likelihood that you'll generate a stronger ranking online. I'm still learning... but see its value already.
Press releases are still very valuable and in this digital age, they have an expanded and evolved role. Nowadays, we can
craft a press release as a news piece, while structured with SEO for online searches. We can be more involved, yet more concise.
With less journalists working on the papers, those that do are having to having to write more articles. Furthermore, with increasing numbers of online journalists having to write large numbers of pieces to keep websites up to date and current, more and more journalists are relying on communication agencies to do the leg work for them. Press releases do this - because all journalists need to do lift written content.

Simply, journalists are limited by the amount of research they can undertake per article. For the smaller and less detailed articles, they won't. Press releases fill this void and if anything, they are now more 'alive' than ever before.
I have a clear bias holding PressClub.Com (still developing its core engine).

That said, I found the comments regarding Twitter interesting, as it still seems that some fundemental truths about the Internet may still not be apparent. Linking to an expert resource site is the most natural use of venues like Twitter.

So, what makes an expert resource? A site which becomes a hub of useful information for the person clicking the link who comes to trust the site and its content.

I think it was buzz, brand and usefulness which were key elements in Google's success and the same strategy seemed to be in play for Twitter and Facebook in social media realm.

You want build an expert resource site? You have to have a group of industry leaders who agree that it makes sense to put it together and are prepared to commit to the platform. You then have to focus that site as a brand in the consumer's minds.

As the long term objective for Pressclub.com is press releases, I obviously was very interested in the results of the poll and comments here.

Even so, I think that it takes a team effort from a group of industry experts prepared to contribute expertise and funding to create a successful "expert site" experience and share the rewards of such a site.

Simply put, you raise enough awareness with people that site x is the place to go for press releases and they will gravitate there. The more people who place release content there, the more trust the site gains and the more folks will participate both as contributors and consumers of the information contained therein.

The biggest hurdle is in the early stage seems almost always getting the correct expert team together and having them all work and play well with others. Been there, done that and it is a huge hurdle, especially so with creative folks mixed with VC. In retrospect, if not for focus reasons alone, I think it is far better to have the content participants fund and support the model as well as benefit from its success.

The press release lives on, and just as social media releases were developed to exploit such channels, continued innovation is certain. The press release has always been a means to an end, not the end. The value is not in the tool, but in the craftsman – the professional communicator.

Brian Burlingame
COO, The Jeffrey Group
I get tired of hearing that the news release is dead or dying. Often, the folks pushing that idea are the companies that offer online news distribution and/or SEO services.

The release remains a valuable part of the PR person's toolkit -- it offers background info, details and lots more.

Releases should just be thrown out there at the media. They should be targeted. But the pros know that and do it.
My 2-cents. I work for a start-up; and one of the prerequisites for a start-up is drafting a press release. The tactile, printed press-release sent our on company letterhead with envelope.
I contend that it, and the thank-you note, still hold weight in the business world. An email blast is fine, but if you're like me, 75% of them you routinely ignore.

And the irony? I work for a start-up that deals exclusively in digital media. Namely, branded iPhone apps.

Eric Cooley
Seattle, WA
The commenting period on this poll has ended.