An Autopsy of the Press Release

It probably goes without saying that the world has changed for the traditional press release.  Social media has changed the way companies communicate with customers, and then in turn, the press release must have changed as well, right?

If you Google “Is the press release dead?” you’ll find that many have already written the obituary.  Social media swirls around, the world wants multimedia and the stodgy old press release looks a bit long in the tooth.  Certainly it has outlived its usefulness.

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So let’s do an autopsy.  How did the release die?

Was it the carefully crafted messages, neatly fit into 4 or 5 paragraphs?  Or perhaps it was the “About” boilerplate at the end, sharing compact facts about who released the release.  I know, the heading of “For Immediate Release” was so old, so disgusting, the press release committed suicide.

But maybe, just maybe, the press release can’t die.  After all, what is a press release?  It’s an announcement and one that has some gravity.  It’s been thought through, carefully edited, fully proofread, and in larger companies, signed off by dozens of folks before you get to read it.  Companies will always have announcements to make and the official announcement document is known as a press release.

A press release is a one-page summation of a company announcement.  Just the facts and a quote.  The important things you need to know.  You can add pictures, videos, and links to your press release.  You can choose where a release goes and make that local or worldwide.  Twitter and Facebook haven’t replaced the press release as an announcement vehicle, but they can help you spread the news to interested parties.  What would an important official announcement look like if not in a press release?

Press releases find their way to a dedicated section on a company’s website, where they function as chapters in the company’s history; the product announcements, the executive additions and the earnings wins, all set out neatly in press releases.  You can scan the titles and quickly get a feel for “what the company has been doing.”

No folks, the press release is not dead.  It’s a still a major part of what we do.  It’s a unique style of writing; a pithy rundown of the key elements of a story.  There is always a need for pithy writing.

It’s not dead; it just has a lot more competition.  The social media revolution created a bunch of new communication channels.  Those channels all have their place. They all have their audiences.  The new channels get a lot of attention.  But the press release lives, still doing what it does best.  Companies still issue them and the press keeps relying on them.

So if you come across someone who thinks the press release is dead, ask them how they know?  Inquire as to what replaced it.  Then tell them to look around.  The press release not only lives, it thrives!

Does your company still issue press releases?   Are you sending out any fewer releases?

You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ericlundbohm/

Follow his updates on Twitter @lundbohm

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