‘Is the press release dead?’ has been debated in the industry for years, but are we having the right debate?
The argument about the importance of the press release has gone back and forth. Many people have claimed that it no longer has a place in the ever-evolving digital media landscape, while others still say there is no better way to communicate key messages and keep them consistent throughout a PR campaign.
The platforms that allow businesses to share their story have increased tenfold in the last two decades, which has reduced the impact, but not necessarily the importance of the traditional press release.
This has also affected journalists significantly. Journalists receive scores of pitches and press releases into their inbox and across their social media profiles every day, so they desire short, snappy engaging content that they can pick the bones of the story from in seconds.
Maybe it is not a question of whether the press release is dead, but more a question of how news should be shared with relevant publications and outlets? The content contained in a press release has the key information needed to sell into a publication, but it doesn’t have to be confined to a Word document. The format might need to vary depending on the story, the journalist or the outlet.
A recent combined survey by Muck Rack, a journalist database, and Zeno Group, an integrated communications agency, found that around 50 per cent of journalists don’t use press releases to find news stories, making it roughly a 50/50 chance that a press release will be picked up.
16 per cent of journalists surveyed said they prefer key information around a story or announcement to come through in a different format to the traditional press release. This doesn’t mean the press release is dead, but suggest we need to be a bit more creative if we want our content to get noticed.
Videos and infographics
Forty-nine per cent of those surveyed said they were more likely to pay attention to a press release if it contained an infographic. A significant number said the same if a video was featured alongside or as the main way of conveying the story.
It’s great excuse for any PR to get more creative. Writing a press release for each campaign is still important, even if it’s only used internally to ensure everyone is on the same wave length. The best PR campaigns use a variety of methods to communicate key messages and engage readers, which is most important to journalists and columnists. Creating a video or infographic is a very visual way to tell a story and engage the reader.
Social media has had a major impact on how journalists source stories. Many journalists use Twitter to find information that will contribute to or help them build a story. This is another important method of sharing news for PR’s.
By this, we don’t mean tweeting announcements from the company page in isolation but engaging with journalists and responding to what they have said to fuel discussion. Demonstrating insight is a great way to get your foot in the door to reach the goal of getting your news published.
We’re sure the debate about whether the press release is dead will continue for some time. What is certain is that the key elements of what makes a story appealing and relevant, will never change. The traditional press release may only have its use for specific publications and campaigns, but by being creative and using tools available to bring the press release to life, the chances of success for a PR campaign can be increased significantly.
An up-and-coming talent with a background in a huge range of sectors, he supports on the care and education team with his love of writing and digital acumen. He’s made himself essential both as a creative ideas man and as the only one who can work the screen in our boardroom.