If you Google ‘death of press release’ you will find a number of articles over the last few years questioning the role that the humble press release plays in PR. Certainly in the age of Twitter and social media the notion of a 300 – 500 word press release almost seems dated, yet I’d argue they have just as an important role to play in PR today as they did 20+ years ago. The main difference is that the vast majority are sent via emails as opposed to being posted.
In many respects the email and internet age has encouraged press release quantity rather than quality. Indeed, there certainly does seem to be an increase in the number of badly written and targeted press releases. You only have to look on Twitter on a daily basis to see such releases getting the ire of journalists across all sectors. Yet, a well written and targeted release (with the appropriate sell-in) can still achieve great results.
When it comes to press releases, the battle we often face with clients is establishing if an announcement justifies a release in the first place and then if it does, the word count. In the ‘old days’ you probably could get away with just three or four paragraphs as a release was simply there to pique a journalist’s interest with a view to setting up an interview. However, in the world of online media, where journalists have less time for interviews and are often required to write 4 or 5 stories daily, a longer press release which tells a story and includes well-written quotes can be turned into a good piece of editorial (N.B. I’m not referring to a simple verbatim cut & paste of a release).
One of the main roles of a PR is to help journalists with their stories and certainly an informative editorial style press release remains a good way of doing this – clearly an extended sales pitch masquerading as a press release is more of a hindrance rather than help! I for one won’t be writing a press release obituary just yet.