from pickett&associates … exploring PR, social media and entrepreneurship

The Press Release: Not Dead Yet September 27, 2010

Filed under: Strategic PR — pickettwrites @ 11:11 am

I often refer to my “previous life” as a journalist and rely upon a good many of those skills I developed over the course of nearly three decades. Lately, I’ve observed a bit of debate among communication professionals regarding the future of the press release.

Some shout, “Strike up the dirge, it’s deaddeaddead!” Others hold steadfast to their practice of pushing out a news release, regardless. If nothing else, they reason, they can post it to free sites and gain a little search engine traction.

I’m reminded of the scene in “The Holy Grail” in which Monty Python parodies the era of the Black Plague … as the “dead wagon” approaches, one potential passenger says, “Hey. I’m not dead yet.”

Indeed, as more tactics of message distribution are added to the list, the importance of the press release has diminished a bit. You can Tweet, Digg, Facebook, Blog, etc. …  but certainly, like our dead-wagon-bound-friend, “it’s not dead yet.”

So say two industry bloggers this morning: Rob Berman’s blog, “20 Reasons for Issuing a Press Release” rehashes one of Pickett&Associate’s fav’s, Gini Dietrich’s “Spin Sucks Blog” which I believe I even “re-tweeted” a few weeks ago re: PR vs Publicity.

The reasons are all good, solid ones with which most public relations/communications professionals are familiar — organizational changes, awards, new products, services, business or employees. All fine and encouraged.

However, I will make one observation. A press release should be NEWS worthy; it SHOULD NOT originate from your public relations account manager or internal communications director as a way to “get your name out there.” Here’s another phrase that I disdain: “Repurpose.” Rule of thumb: You should only recycle your trash, not your press releases. Changing the headline and rearranging paragraphs does not a press release (or a blog for that matter) make. And, harkening back to my experience in the newsroom, these practices will NOT make you very popular or trusted among the media, either.

So, the press release? Perhaps it’s “getting bettah.” Especially when used prudently, respectfully and wisely as part of your communication tactics.

Writing this morning from the “Arklatex” region … Evidently, that’s what they call this area of northwestern Louisiana in which Shreveport is located. Last stop on the “tour” … back home to the Midwest tonight. But in the meantime, “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”


4 Responses to “The Press Release: Not Dead Yet”

  1. Rob Berman Says:

    Thanks for the mention of my blog post, 20 Reasons For Issuing A Press Release. As you note, if it is newsworthy it is valuable information. Once the release is written it can be submitted online and via Social Media.


  2. AMEN!! I absolutely think there is room for the news release, if it’s in the form of NEWS. But when it’s “we’re excited to announce…” Yeah, you’re the only one excited about that. It’s so weird to me that, in today’s day and age, PR pros still think announcements are newsworthy. Unless you’re Apple announcing the new iPhone, you’re likely not going to make news. What is not dead is relationships and building them with the influencers (bloggers, speakers, thought leaders, reporters) in order to help build your brand. But those take time and lots of selfless hours. That really is what separates the good pros from the bad.

  3. I’ve discussed this on my blog as well. The bottom line is that news releases — well-crafted and well-targeted — still work for getting media coverage. As a former journalist myself, I’ve seen some bad ones that destroyed their sender’s credibility. In fact, occassionally I still find myself on distribution lists for other organization’s press releases, and I’m amazed at the bad practices out there. But that’s no reason to ditch the whole enterprise if you know how to do it well.

  4. John Sternal Says:

    It’s simple. Every time a reporter asks me for “more information” they ask me to send over a press release. That says it all for me.

    John Sternal

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