The Press Release is (Almost) Dead

We continue to churn out press releases every day here.

But, I can promise you this: We do not need a press release to get coverage.  In fact, the press release doesn’t have anything to do with the placements our clients receive.

I think the press release is on its deathbed, actually.  I am by no means the first person to make this statement: Peter ShankmanAd Age and many other really smart PR pros have long ago bid their farewell to the traditional press release.

I don’t think I’m going to be attending the funeral of the press release any time this year, though. Here’s why:

  1. Our clients still want them. For lots of reasons: for the website, to post to the newswires, to make the CEO happy, whatever.
  2. Most big brands/corporations are scared to venture away from what’s safe.  It’ll be a while before we see big corporations do away with the traditional press release.
  3. SEO value. Many businesses like to post press releases to (paid and free) newswires for the search engine optimization value. However, I think the SEO value you get from posting a press release is awesome, but it would better to focus your efforts on a good blogging strategy.

Despite all of this, I’m still prepared.  Here are three reasons the press release has a fatal diagnosis, and why I’ve got my black dress picked out.

  1. The pitch is more important. I can’t remember any instance of when a reporter said “My, what a great press release you have.”  But I CAN remember many times when it was our timing, pitch, message or idea that snagged an editor’s attention.
  2. The traditional press release is boring!  Our society has become accustomed to short nuggets of information that get straight the point. Most press releases are anything but that. Effective written communications to editors these days are a couple of paragraphs maximum and get straight to the point of why your story idea matters to their readers.  If there’s a need for more information, anything valuable from a press release can also be found in a quick fact sheet with bullets.
  3. Press releases are not targeted enough.  Our media contacts are bombarded every second with a pitch or press release to their email.  So, to stand out, your message better resonate in a second or two. Most traditional press releases aren’t specific enough to an outlet to make a good impact.
  4. Fluff doesn’t work anymore.  In this world of information overload, editors and reporters have become immune to the jargon-filled, fluffy quotes from corporate executives that for many years filled our press releases.  Not only do editors see through the smoke now, they want their own quote (not one that the communications team spent an hour tweaking until it was “perfect”.)

Now, excuse me, I’ve got a press release to write.

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