If Press Releases Are Not Dead, Then What?

Filed in Sharisax Is Out There 2 comments

PR teachers have it made these days . . . if “having it made” means we get to figure out what works and what doesn’t now that the Social Media Revolution is affecting every facet of business.

We teach our students that public relations is all about building and maintaining a company’s reputation. That is usually news to the students who come to us thinking that PR people write press releases and tell lies.

Would be AWESOME to include a quote from you

I asked this question to several of my online friends, including Bill Sledzik, a PR professor at Kent State University [where I earned my master’s in PR umpteen years ago]. He responded on Facebook and then put the answer on his Posterous site as well. Here is what he said:

One of my Facebook friendz asked me this question, and since
only my friendz can see my response, I’ve decided to post it here as well.

Question: ARE PRESS RELEASES DEAD? Planning a blog post: would love your opinion 🙂
Would be AWESOME to include a quote from you!

Answer: I first read about the death of the news release in 1979, the same year I last attended a Grateful Dead concert. The prognosticators were wrong then, and they’re wrong now.

The press release, done correctly and professionally, is a perfectly serviceable tool. I would also point out that the SEC especially likes releases as a compliance tool. Unfortunately, a news release in the hands of an amateur is ineffective and sometimes offensive. Of course, the same is true of blogs, websites, and even tweets. As folks untrained in the effective use of news releases have invaded the ranks of PR, we’ve seen an explosion of bad practice and bad writing.

I lay the blame for shoddy media relations practices squarely on the marketers, who have yet to fully understand the nuances of public relations. They are starting to come around now –so much so that they want to own “PR.”

The social-media evangelists who predict the death of the press release generally don’t understand how to use them effectively. I would add that many of them don’t write well,either. Just check their blogs.

The press release has changed its form over time, and that evolution will continue. But to paraphrase Mr. Clemens, reports of its death are greatly exaggerated.

After Bill’s response (and others), I turned my attention to a more general look at several PR issues and began following discussions on a few LinkedIn PR groups. Three PR pros in these groups graciously agreed to answer four questions: Ilias Chelidonis, P.J. Naughton, and Scott Tesar.


1. How effective are press releases, really?

2. Is there any way to show an ROI for press releases, especially regarding the costs of distribution.

3. How has PR practice changed in the last 2-3 years?

4. What changes will companies need to make in their PR and marketing strategies, given the growing influence of social media?

And now their answers:

1. How effective are press releases, really?

Ilias: Well, it depends what we define as effective and what we want to get out of a press release.

Is it brand awareness? Is it leads?

In order to get either of these, your press release needs to say something new to the media. It does not have to be better, just new: a new product, new service, something that is worth mentioning.

Online press releases do help you build links and create brand awareness, which if you manage properly, will provide business leads but certainly not in the near future: it much more of a long term investment.

P.J. They are more effective today as long as the magazine/publications post the release on their websites. This creates backlinks to your site which is good for the Google ranking as well as the Google search. Having a backlink from a trade publication that has a high page rank adds credibility to your site.

Scott: In my experience, I have not found them to be effective because there are so many of them out there that I believe they get lost in the volume. New social networking channels appear to offer more effective, targeted communication mediums.

2. Is there any way to show an ROI for press releases, especially regarding the costs of distribution.

Ilias: Cost of press release distribution is very low these days, so it would be better to be taken as a long term investment rather than something that needs to have quantifiable return in the short term.

However return can be calculated by deciding first what you want to achieve by sending out a press release. You need to track how many signups came from the press release and how many actions taken — was it a sale or a download of a white paper.

P.J.: If yo

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Posted by Shari Weiss   @   8 May 2010
Tags : , , , , , ,
Jun 19, 2010
10:53 am

The press release or news release as it often referred to is one of the most under utilized forms of branding in today’s social media world. People spend too much time broadcasting to thousands of friends and followers that are mostly neither and too little time in making efforts to get newsworthy material in front of the professional media – what little is left since they are dropping faster BP’s net worth according to every blogger on the planet.

Author Jun 19, 2010
11:22 am

John, so what are we to think about the term “mass market”?
A waste of time to pursue?

Sorry, comments are closed.

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