For decades, the press release has been the PR professional’s main tool for getting news out to the media and public at large. However, there has been much industry dispute in recent years regarding whether or not the traditional press release is dead. In an age of social media, where 140 characters is now all you really need to disseminate your message, is there still a need for the formality of a press release announcement? I believe the answer is yes, in certain instances, and here’s why:
When used appropriately, press releases legitimatize your company’s news. Good PR people have an innate understanding of what warrants drafting and distributing a press release, and journalists expect to receive one in the event of a big announcement. Sending a press release signals to the reporter that you have something important to say and provides them with the necessary details to report the story. However, press releases should be used judiciously and reserved for announcements that are truly newsworthy. If abused, they can have a negative effect on your brand and on your relationships with the media.
Although some reporters may initially prefer a quick e-mail pitch or tweet, if they’re interested in covering your news, they inevitably will ask you to send them additional information. Press releases provide a comprehensive reference with all the details a journalist needs to report your story. Along with supplying the answers to who, what, where, and when, press releases should be factual, concise, and formatted according to AP style. Press releases provide a convenient and familiar vehicle for disseminating your news to the media.
Contrary to the real-time nature of a tweet or Facebook post that quickly becomes buried by other content, press releases can be posted to your company’s website and live on indefinitely. This not only allows your news to be continually searchable, but it also often assists with your company’s search engine optimization.
Although there are many reasons press releases are still viable and, at times, necessary, they should be part of a comprehensive PR strategy and one of the many items in your communications toolbox. There are many newer methods of dispersing news, which should also be considered. Company blogs, social media, and sponsored content are all effective means of relaying your message. Perhaps one of these or an entirely new tool may eventually take over, but until then, press releases are still alive and kicking.