Why We Can't Kill the Press Release Just Yet

Posted by wendyama

Apr 7, 2010 1:52:01 AM

There is a great discussion going on on Mark Evans’ blog about the social media release.

Whaddya say?

Yes, despite all its touting by PR professionals, the social media release has never quite taken off. And, if PR professionals can’t sell something, I smell a rat.

So first some basics.

The social media release came to fame in 2006 when Todd Defren of Shift Communications introduced it. It was – and is – a multi media release
The idea was to give busy reporters everything they need in a release including photos, video, social media.

Yet it isn’t widely used. While Evans’ surmises that press releases in general aren’t necessary, I am going to refine that a bit and say that social media releases aren’t necessary. As some commentators on Evans’ post noted, the good, old fashioned press release can easily be tweaked to include video, social media and other elements of the social media release. In a sense the social media release has been coopted, its social and multi-media features absorbed into the regular press release. Business Wire, for example, lets you send multimedia releases and propagate them on social media.

There is another reason I would argue that it hasn’t caught on. In my opinion, it’s well --  how do I put this delicately?  --  it's not too exciting to read. It’s bad enough to have jargon-filled releases as too many are – and I’m sure I’ve done some of my own. But who wants to read a glorified outline? Here see if you don’t agree.

The fact is that in the urgency to be helpful and offer up all the icing on the cake, the social media release misses what’s useful about a well-written release – and why I think it’s lasted so many years. Done right it tells a story – the who, what, when, where, how. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting the old gray lady of a release is a work of art. But it can quickly get to the point and in some cases gets you to pay attention.

Just for fun, I went on Business Wire’s site and looked under the contest category. This release, Calling All Swedish Hospital Babies and Parents, caught my eye and I bet it would yours. What a great title! The release is engagingly written with all the key facts. Now I would have loved to see a visual added to the release but the release does its job by itself.

So where does this leave everyone?

As David Meerhman Scott pointed out in his groundbreaking book, The New Rules of Marketing & PR, now in its second edition, releases today are not just for the media but for the search engines and ultimately customers. That means:

  • Press releases need to be readable and enticing and search-engine friendly so they get highly indexed by Google and its ilk.

  • Press releases need to make it easy for journalists. All the facts tied together in a way that a media person could simply rewrite a sentence or two along with his/her byline if the media person or blogger were short of time.

  • Press releases should not be puff pieces. Just the facts.

  • Press releases need to be jargon-free

For other ways to improve your press release, check out this great post: 

So what type of press release, if any, do you use? I’d love to hear from you.

Topics: Blog


About this blog

B2B PR Sense brings passion and insight to the topic of B2B public relations. The blog focuses on the ideas and challenges facing companies and executives as they navigate this whirling new media world of content marketing, social media and inbound marketing...along with the traditional media world.

I'm thrilled to be part of the industry discussion and conversation, both as a long-time owner of a B2B PR agency and as an active participant in B2B PR conversations. I hope you too will join in the discussion and share your thoughts and opinions. Now, let's start talking!

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