The press release is not dead – it’s not even sick

The press release is not dead – it’s not even sick

Last week I was told once again that “the press release is dead.”  In fact, when I googled the term “press release is dead” I got more than 48 million results. Someone even suggested that HARO would replace the press release. (Still scratching my head at that one.) Thank goodness for local Minneapolis reporter @derushaj who clearly stamped the truth on twitter last week.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/DeRushaJ/status/29671885792874498″]

If the press release is dead, why am I continuing to use them as an important tool in my daily PR work?

Here’s why – the badly written press release and the press release used badly were never alive to begin with. What IS alive and well is the use of press releases for the following purposes. No tweet, Facebook post or email sent to HARO can do these, at least not well:

  • Press releases provide the 5W’s that media use for background on a story. (who, what, where, when, why) THEY DO NOT REPLACE THE PITCH. First I pitch a journalist, then I often send the release as a follow up to provide more detail.
  • Press releases  provide an important vehicle of information for breaking news or crisis communications. For example, this fall I helped manage media relations for a plane crash that involved a lengthy search and missing family members. The county sheriff’s daily press releases were the key tool to manage the information sent to the media. Without those releases, it would have been chaos.
  • Media alerts, or shorter versions of press releases, communicate the basic facts about events to calendar editors and regional dailies and blogs. In fact, many online news sites just use these verbatim.
  • Press releases provide good information for TV reporters who need quick sound bytes for their stories, as well as assignment editors looking for the best stories to cover. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked on a story and seen the reporter pulling out my press release as their backgrounder, to prepare for their on air commentary.
  • For publicly held companies, the press release is the only way to distribute information that must reach the public first. In the case of mergers and news of this sort, the press release must be distributed over the wire before the news is broken in any other way.

I could go on and on regarding this topic – PitchEngine and other tools like it are GREAT  but frankly, we’re using them as a new method for sending out releases – they’re not replacing them. Neither is social media.

Do journalists and bloggers get tons of spammy releases on a daily basis? You bet they do. Do companies think a press release is all they need to do to generate stories? You bet they do. And it’s been the fault mainly of lousy (and lazy) public relations people  try to make a document do their job for them. I agree – let’s kill the bad press release and the press release used badly. But please stop saying that press releases are dead. It’s really annoying for those of us who use them every day.

Here’s a recent poll on AdAge that I think you’ll find interesting.

18 Comments
  • Ronald
    Posted at 09:20h, 27 January Reply

    Good post and I couldn’t help more but to agree. Like this link here

  • DogWalkBlog
    Posted at 07:22h, 27 January Reply

    Why do people who know nothing about the industry make these declarations? Many of these are made by folks who have a large following in their social media circles and they think that a large crowd of others who think just like them makes them experts at everything else. People who have never worked a newspaper or TV newsroom should just shut the hell up about what is dead and what ain’t.

    That off my chest, well-written news releases are like air to journos. But there are so many crappy ones sent that it is easy to jump to the conclusion that the press release is dead. Rambling on and on, not having a good title, no summary in 140 or less, no 5W facts IN THE FIREST PARAGRAPH, etc. If your release is incomplete and a journo has to ask any basic 5W question, in the trash. A reporter will not call…

    People often make the mistake of thinking it is the reporter’s job to ask questions or do an interview. They won’t; they don’t have time. #madmen Season 4, episode 1

  • Tyrell
    Posted at 12:31h, 27 January Reply

    I basically knew about virtually all of this, but never the less, I still considered it had been useful. Sweet blog!

  • Beth Blair
    Posted at 17:28h, 27 January Reply

    As a writer, I agree press releases are not dead. They can be very beneficial – though the “bad” ones do make for fun chatter over happy hour.

  • bonnie
    Posted at 17:42h, 27 January Reply

    Beth, that’s why I love http://badpitch.blogspot.com/ so much.

  • Mia
    Posted at 03:43h, 28 January Reply

    A PR is an official statement used by many companies/ institutions as a communication tool, so it can’t die. Things may look a little gloomy right now with all the spamming involved, but still the good PR make it through.

    • bonnie
      Posted at 07:37h, 28 January Reply

      I am always in shock when I see how much spam gmail is catching. Who responds to those things?

  • Andy @ FirstFound
    Posted at 06:44h, 28 January Reply

    Who said that press releases were dead? Is it the same moron who keeps trying to kill off SEO?

    • bonnie
      Posted at 07:38h, 28 January Reply

      I had no idea SEO was under siege as well how silly. Andy maybe you should write a post on that one.

  • Rufus Dogg
    Posted at 12:59h, 28 January Reply

    @bonnie @andy Lisa Barone had a good article today on SEO.. could have been yesterday…
    http://outspokenmedia.com/seo/seo-not-working/

  • French Translation Edinburgh
    Posted at 14:57h, 28 January Reply

    Truth is that press releases still carry a great deal of credibility and formality, despite their over-usage by every small, big, one person, blue chip company… It’s a good tool!

  • Nutrition Degree
    Posted at 15:49h, 28 January Reply

    My favorite terrible press release was when someone stole the content straight from one of my sites and built their own site around it then used my content (nearly word-for-word) as the press release. The only things that made it unique were all the typos scattered through the text. Very classy.

  • Honda Atlanta
    Posted at 13:47h, 29 January Reply

    A well written and objective press release is an excellent medium for launching a new product. However, press releases on sites such as PRLog are very much abused. I have seen quite a few that are nothing but sales pages for diet products and ab workouts. A lot of affiliate marketers re-write EzineArticles and post them as press releases; for many it’s just another way to earn a link back to their site.

  • Craig
    Posted at 15:47h, 30 January Reply

    Writing a press release is an art form. The reason most mutli national corporations have dedicated media people is because you need to know what you are doing.

    A press release with poor grammar, poor english and poor content is as useful as used toilet paper.

    Like any internet marketing tool…use it properly or dont bother using it at all!

  • Dr Dre Beats
    Posted at 03:11h, 01 February Reply

    My favorite terrible press release was when someone stole the content straight from one of my sites and built their own site around it then used my content (nearly word-for-word) as the press release. The only things that made it unique were all the typos scattered through the text. Very classy.

  • Olga
    Posted at 05:29h, 06 February Reply

    Definetely! The press is not even sick!

  • hoog in google
    Posted at 09:34h, 07 December Reply

    hoog in google…

    […]The press release is not dead | Wax Blog[…]…

  • Pingback:News releases: my take on are they dead or alive? | Life According to Allie
    Posted at 00:54h, 01 October Reply

    […] you can tell, I disagree. I think news releases are alive and well. Although I have never written a professional news release in my life, I understand their […]

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