Is the press release dead?

Last week, while in New York, I had coffee with new PR Week Editor in Chief Keith O’Brien.  We had an interesting discussion about whether or not the press release, in the traditional sense, is dead. 

In Keith’s opinion, he’d rather receive a quick list of bullet points about why something is newsworthy, versus the staid press release, with its manufactured quotes and boilerplates.  To him, it’s superfluous information that gets in the way of the real story (if there is one there).

I’m torn on this issue.  On the one hand, when I’m sending out a press release about a new product launch of sunglasses (I work with Costa Del Mar sunglasses), it’s a great way to get facts such as price, key benefits of the new sunglass, etc. out to the media.  Inevitably, if media are going to write about the new line, these are the kinds of things they want to know about. 

But I do agree that press releases are not consistent enough, and are overused more often than not, to the point that most media are probably jaded when they see that dateline appear in their e-mail inbox. 

What do you think?  Do press releases still work for you??  Not the new social media releases Kim wrote about recently, but the old-school, who-what-when-why-where in the lead, press release.  Or are you switching to an “all bullet points, all the time” approach when it comes to spreading an announcement?  I’d love to hear what’s working for other PR practitioners out there.

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2 Comments

  1. Liza, I know a few companies that are sending out the traditional PR news release, but then *also* adding a very brief statement on an RSS news feed. They ping the various news servers out there to let them know it’s available. Basically, the shortened version is a response to something, with extra insight or a basic summary of the angle.

    So, one of these might be a two-sentence summary of what’s happening, then the one quote that seems to provide the most impact. Then, if an editor wants to pick up the quote, there’s no wading through the positioning stuff. It’s just the most important information in the smallest possible package.

    I haven’t seen bullet points, however… maybe another appropriate approach!

  2. That’s really great feedback, Christy. It’s something I’ve been curious about, but haven’t delved much into myself. Thanks for giving me some ideas to think about.


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