Personally, I was taught all throughout college that a key part of doing public relations was writing a successful press release. While I believe this to be partially true, after attending the SDC and listening to the events keynote speaker, Luke Capizzo, talk about the Convergence of Public Relations, I now have a different view of them.
As we all know, press releases are designed to communicate newsworthy information to journalists in hopes to get a story out of it. This is not the aspect of a press release that I now think is outdated, but instead it is the format.
Times have changed, technology has improved and people’s tastes are different, all of this adds up to a need for a change in the press release. As Capizzo talked about, the press release is too generalized, journalist don’t want the same release as everyone else, they want one that is individualized and tailored for them.
With new technologies and improved ways to get messages to the masses, is a printed paper press release really the best way? I don’t think so. I think we should be using technology to better get our messages out and craft them for our intended audiences.
Alternatives to the paper press release
Use your company’s social media presence to get information out by posting news about your company on facebook and twitter. This may not be a direct link to journalists, but it will lead to potential stories journalist could pick up.
These are those things you see on your facebook and twitter feeds that are from other companies, do this for your company. Instead of trying to pitch your press release to a journalist to get a story, skip the middle-man and write your own story and pay to have it sponsored on appropriate blogs and social media websites.
To sum up, is the press release dead? No, but the format and they way we currently are taught to write and send them out is. There are many ways to get a “press release” out, and we as PR practitioners should not be limited to a 300-500 word typed up paper. Use the resources our technologically advanced society has provided.