Discussions continue regarding validity of traditional press releases. Press releases were the traditional go-to channel used by public relations practitioners to share information with the media. Some consider press releases irrelevant in today’s society, where social media citizen journalists are breaking news first. This begs the question, with the evolution of the Internet and social media platforms, are press releases being phased out? Spoiler alert: No.
The popularity and use of social media sites has forced PR professionals to change how we communicate. Emails, cold calls and tweets have become more of the norm when sharing information with the press versus a conventional format-specific press release. Because social media has changed the way we do public relations, it’s becoming more common for journalists to overlook press releases, as they often search for news stories directly avoiding any possible bias.
Yet at the same time, good practitioners know how to tie effective public relations with good SEO. Using the distributed press release to increased links and keyword searches back to the corporate site increases organic search ratings. Additionally, press releases are used as a great form of “back-up” information when the original pitch piques a reporter’s interest.
While the terms are often interchanged, I consider a “news release” to include critical information of wide ranging impacts. When the release represents an official statement from an organization, speaks on behalf of a company when critical announcements need to be made, specific issues need to be addressed or stock prices may be impacted, “news releases” are still important.
Maybe the traditional press release isn’t really an alert to media outlets anymore. Maybe it’s better if we consider it an “information release”. We don’t use them much in pitching, but there is still a role for press releases in the practice of public relations.
Another morphing of the role of press releases is from a recent study stating that 66 percent of public relations consultants say the press release plays a very vital role in branding efforts on behalf of a company. In your opinion, will the typical press release continue to be effective or how much longer until its usefulness is eliminated in our social media-driven society? Share your thoughts with us!