Press Release dead? Hardly.

If you spend enough time reading the trades, internet and social media, you will see plenty of stories that will make you shake your head.  We’ve been hearing for years that the newspaper is dead. Sure, it is struggling in many ways, but it’s far from six feet under.

On Monday, I logged into TweetDeck to see a tweeted link to a post over at Ad Age titled, “RIP, the Press Release (1906-2010)– and Long Live the Tweet” by Simon Dumenco. I immediately thought, “Here we go, again.” I decided to read the story anyways. Dumenco opines that because of the use of social media by Kanye West and others, we are seeing the death knell of the release.

He writes:

The long-suffering, much-maligned press release, I’d argue, finally died this summer, thanks particularly to JetBlue and BP, with a little moral support from Kanye West and just about every other celebrity with thumbs. (Of course, press releases will probably continue to stumble along, zombie-like, for years to come, because too many PR folks are still heavily invested in grinding them out.)

Just because we PR folks are supposedly invested in grinding out releases, that is the only reason they survive? No.  Sure, many of us are going to Twitter, Facebook, etc. to let customers and media partners in on what’s happening.  But, Neil Patrick Harris saying he is expecting a child over Twitter hasn’t killed the release. In the digital age, it’s important to realize that there is plenty of hyperbole found in social media circles.

It’s up to PR folks to help reporters and consumers that are wading through the static to direct them to clearer channels.  The press release helps to do that.  In the last two weeks, I have written a handful of releases.  Their distribution was enhanced by Twitter and Facebook. However, smaller newspapers and TV stations will often take what is in that release and publicize it. Sometimes staff at these organizations are so small, the release is reprinted as the written story on an event.

The only way we evolve is to change.  If we don’t evolve, yes, we’ll “die.”  But, I think the press release is far from a final breath.  It’s actually getting a shot of new blood thanks to social media and savvy PR pros.


About JasMollica

"It's never too late to have a life and it's never too late to change one." That's something I tell students, friends, and family all the time. After living and working in New York City, I took my own advice in 2004, switched my career from the television/radio industry and got into public relations. Now, I spend my days as a PR/social media marketing consultant and get inspired daily. It's been a good ride, so far. But the car has plenty of gas left. I hope you'll join along in this guy's journey!

Posted on September 13, 2010, in Hot Topic, Media, Public Relations, Social Media and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. I think you raise a good point, Jason. I was shocked when my daughter’s teacher informed me a few years ago that Roman Numerals are not taught here in Florida anymore. I guess in the long run they are a lot less necessary than a good press release, but for some reason that seems a loss of a classic piece of knowledge.

  2. Amen, Jason! I think you hit the nail right on the head with your point that “[Press release] distribution was enhanced by Twitter and Facebook. However, smaller newspapers and TV stations will often take what is in that release and publicize it. Sometimes staff at these organizations are so small, the release is reprinted as the written story on an event.”

    100% true. As one of the commenters pointed out in the original AdAge piece, Twitter, Facebook and blogs are one component/channel of an entire communications strategy, rather than THE only strategy/channel. Often, I feel as though many social pundits view the press release dead because it doesn’t fit conveniently within the hot platform of that time, and yet, that hot platform often gets fed from the very releases so many gurus keep saying are dying off.

    • @Paula: Thanks… Roman Numerals aren’t taught? I don’t think they are less necessary since they are still used. Sad.

      @Keith: I’m glad you commented. I agree with your point about social pundits. Releases are part of the communications process. Like I said, we evolve to grow. My thanks for stopping by the blog!

  3. As long as celebrities with thumbs exist, the press release will exist. Why? Because a press release following a great blunder posted by said celebrity will be necessary to curtail the damage done.

    Tweeting, Facebooking, Digging, Deliciousing, Buzzing, or whatever other social network you can think of isn’t the entire audience, and never will be. A press release to traditional outlets helps get your information out to a wider audience.

    As I said this morning, the manner a release is distributed, or the content in the release, may change, but the IDEA of the press release will likely never go away.

  4. As I mentioned in our conversation on Twitter earlier, were PR pros bemoaning the death of the press release when e-mail became more popular than a fax machine? It seems to me that the death of one technology (fax, snail mail, etc.) as the main source for releasing information to the press is more of an opportunity to evolve the press release than to kill it off. Are the press releases issued today the same as the ones iin the 1950’s, 80’s or 2005? I sure hope not.

    • @Aurora You made a terrific point earlier. Look at cell phones. They went from clunky plug in your car types, to palm size. Products change. So has the news release and it will continue to evolve.

      @Matt Case in point.. Tiger Woods. Did he issue a tweet? Nope. He did nothing but use his website with a statement, that was crafted (badly) by his team. Ideas constantly change, which is what make the world great.

  5. Jason,

    Thanks so much for posting this.

    Paula, Keith, Matt and Aurora,

    I couldn’t agree with you all more and echo each of your sentiments. It kills me when those in the media and marketing field “think” they know what PR is and make these ridiculously bold predictions like Dumenco’s “the press release is dead.” Are you kidding me?

    Those who think 140 characters of pure, unadulterated celebrity narcissism can replace a wealth of factual information contained in a newsworthy press release, are probably the same people who think “The Spin Crowd” is an accurate representation of what we do for a living. And based on his article, I imagine Dumenco is an avid fan of such Kardashian-inspired programming.

    Jason, thanks again for posting.

    And Matt, Paula, Keith and Aurora, thanks for your great responses.

    Needless to say, I’m proud to have you all as colleagues in our field.

    – Wesley Mallette

    • Wesley,

      Glad to have your comments here. Advancing the PR profession means adapting, the release is still a strong part of how we get the word out. Twitter, Facebook, etc. will not change that. It will only enhance it.

  6. Jason, you make an excellent point in this blog post. The press release isn’t dying. It just needs to evolve. As you so clearly put, utilize social media to enhance the reach of your press release. Just because we are all on social media, doesn’t mean the rest of the world is. Sadly, I can attest there are plenty of media outlets out there that use little to no social media and still rely heavily on the press release.

    Plus if press releases have been around since 1906, they have gone through a lot of changes. The invention of TV, cell phones, faxes like Aurora mentioned in her comment, didn’t kill the press release. So, why now? The press release will just evolve and morph as technology evolves.

    • Thanks for echoing my “evolving” point. We need to continue to adapt with these changing times and the better we use new tools with the traditional ones, the better we understand our jobs.

  7. I agree with your point. I saw many retweets of that post saying the press release is dead. As much as the press relase has lost maybe 5% of it’s power I agree that social media has just enhanced it.

    To get the larger picture and really understand the story at hand the press release is still a very important piece of PR and it will definatley take some time before it is “dead”.

  8. Jason:

    Thanks for this blog post. As someone who works at a non-profit organization, I’ve seen how press releases help us get the word out about our organization and events that we hold. Just last year, we had a Lamborghini vehicle displayed out our large meeting and thanks to some press releases we got a local news team in to run a story about the event and an exhibitor that was at the show. We couldn’t have done this without a press release that went viral within 6 hours of it being posted.

    Thanks for this blog post, the Press Release is definitely not dead!

    • @Colleen- You are welcome! A well-crafted press release (and even savvier PR pro) can work wonders, eh? Congrats on the publicity and hard work!

      @AliciaC- It was re-tweeted heavily and personally I believe the actual story was done to create buzz, which it did. However, I would have appreciate him actually talking to a PR person, instead of back handing our field with his quote. Lazy journalism. Thanks for your comments!

  9. I like what you’re saying, and hope Gen-Yers listen to this advice and learn how to write a good press release. Press releases are so straight-forward. Twitter, Facebook, social media are created to share this kind of information, not to create it. PR can’t just turn into microblogging. You might have a lot of information to sent out, and getting it all in one easy-to-read press release with all the information in one spot is much better than 10 tweets.

    Keep changing for the better, sure – but don’t forget the press release. I’m just learning, and I already know it’s one of the fundamentals As long as we keep our attention spans, press releases will still be around.

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