For Immediate Release: Death Of Press Release Disputed

Posted on January 18, 2011. Filed under: Public Relations, Public Relations Commentary | Tags: , , , , , |

Edward Bernays was the self-appointed Father o...

Edward Bernays, PR pioneer, press release pro

All this talk about the press release being dead, it’s just talk. And what is talk if not cheap?

Granted the press release, ever malleable, gets used in ways never imagined by early PR superheroes such as Edward Bernays or Ivy Lee.

It’s certainly true that a press release can be issued on Twitter, 140 characters, maybe less, directly on message and without further ado – such as links to backgrounders, bios, calendars, visuals, etc.

Reliable, Always In Demand

If so, so what? What is a press release but a tool, more like a pair of pliers or a screwdriver than an air pressure gauge – that is more of a generalist than a specialist – and so adaptable to whatever purpose is at hand.

The press release is just a handy device, really, something that can be created readily enough by a seasoned pro, easy to use, informative and always there when someone such as a media person asks, “What have you got in writing?”

A Social Media Workhorse

I don’t know what could be simpler than that. Sure, we’ll go ahead and add in all the social media bells and whistles, the links, the graphics, the interactive pieces, the embedded video, the boldly concise writing style, all the wizardry of the digital age. It’s still a press release, requiring some effort by someone, usually a PR person, to organize information in such a way as to communicate a message about something.

So no, I don’t think the press release is going away anytime soon. (Although we could all do with a lot less of the PR-speak that seeps into a lot of press releases, giving them a written-by-a-lobotomized-robot feel.)

Not all press releases are created equally. A simple new-hire release needs to be short and to the point. It’s going to get boiled down to a line or two in the trades anyway. But a new product release, or a release announcing a new study, survey, initiative, new use for an existing product, those are the kinds of releases that can use some creative flair and persuasive language.  Something out of the ordinary. News! Real news! Make the most of it. Write up a fireball of a press release.

Pay By The Press Release? If Only…

But as all of us in PR know, we don’t get paid by the press release. We get paid for results.

Maybe what the press release needs is its own advocacy campaign, sponsored by some organization such as The Society For The Preservation Of The Press Release (SPPR). Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Maybe I’ll send out a press release asking for contributors to the cause.

[Note: the author owns no stock in any press release manufacturing organization other than his own PR agency at the time of this writing.]

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