Stop the Presses ... Press Releases Are NOT Dead

While we go through the many iterations of "the press release is dead" or "the press release must change" some funny news comes from InformationWeek today.

Press releases have overtaken trade press as sources of news for knowledge workers.

Think about that for a second - releases, which are supposed to be the bane of all PR existence because of spin and marketing, are looked to for information.

From the article comes this little bit:

Strouse posits several possible explanations for the rising popularity of press releases. "It may be that press releases are easier for people to get their hands on," he says. "It may be that press releases are shorter and pithier. It may be that they're oftentimes free and come right into an RSS reader."
I take it a step further - think of how many people get their information from Yahoo! Finance or other online finance pages. Think of the news section on those pages ... it's a wire service feed, depending on which one the company uses.

So, an interesting twist: we can all agree that the press release needs to change (mostly, be newsworthy or better written), but we can see that there is still value with sending out a release.

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11 comments

  1. Yup, the poor press release still has legs. As long as it actually has some news in it, that it is :-)

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  2. Okay, so what's a "knowledge worker?"
    From the IW story:
    "[P]ress releases have surpassed trade journals as the leading source of information for knowledge workers."

    It sounds as if people -- these knowledge workers -- are getting information straight from companies' sites and other online sources, vs. from their trade journals.

    As Susan noted, a news release is only as good as the news in it -- and is only as good as it is written.
    Mike

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  3. When writing a press release you need to remember all the potential audiences: the media you want to cover the story, the smaller news outlets that may pick up your press release word for word, and the long tail of having it on your Web site as a news item. Sounds like this last one is the one that's hitting the target. Nice to know.

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  4. Ah, this makes me feel good. Well, just a little bit, 'cause I'm wondering what a "knowledge worker" is, too.

    But, as always, there is a time and place for everything. And that means the press release, as well.

    If I see one more "press releases are dead" post or article I will scream - again. What is happening is adaptation, evolution . . . change. Press releases are not dying, they are maturing and adapting to the environment around them. OK, the people writing them should be, but I think you get the point.

    And, if anyone wants to scream about the ellipse . . . talk to the hand.

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  5. Good stuff - part of PR 2.5 - beyond the hype and return to reality ;)

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  6. Back in the days I subscribed to InformationWeek to get the trade news. But it arrives once a week, it has limited coverage, and you have to dig through ads to find the relevant news. Feeds work better.

    I went through a period when I preferred blogs over press releases. Press releases don’t have a point of view, they’re short on material information (give me the facts!), and contain too much boiler plate fluff (we’re the industry leader in a category we just invented!)

    Now I don't prefer blogs, I rely on them exclusively. I realized in the software industry, anything interesting will be blogged, and everything else is just noise.

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  7. Also, it is all about Google and searching. I bet a lot of people read press releases without even knowing it.

    Oh, and when you find that knowledge worker, ask him or her to give me a call.

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  8. Yeah yeah, knowledge worker and all that. Who knows?

    What this reminds me is, that though I may be a student and pretty adept at the whole blogging thing, I still can't get a job if I don't know how to write a press release.

    Try sending a social media release to a newspaper journalist in a town of 5,000 people. The message will probably be missed.

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  9. Press releases aren't dead. If they were I would feel like I am just throwing my money away to get taught how to make one at my university. Why have classes to learn how to do one if they are dying off? If anything, press releases are evolving, just look at the first official social media press release. They are adapting press releases to the evolution of technology. Then with talks of Edelman releasing a new type of press release soon we can keep seeing it evolve. But as Robert said, "There is a time and place for everyting," and press releases can be seen this way too. It will be nice to see how press releases will be utilized by the time I am in the business world.

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  10. The media are just one of the audiences PR professionals have in mind when drafting a release. Investors read them. Employees read them. Partners read them. And customers read them. That’s how people get timely information about a company they have an interest in. Tom Foremski for the Silicon Valley Watcher in his article, " Die! Press release! Die! Die! Die!,recently wrote that
    we should get rid of press releases for journalists and package the news in a different format (quotes from customers, analysts, etc.).
    http://www.siliconvalleywatcher.com/mt/archives/2006/02/die_press_relea.php)

    What he's saying would create more work for PR professionals because we would likely continue to issue press releases for the all the other audiences, but it would likely create more coverage opportunities also.

    That said, SHIFT Communications’ “Social Media Press Release” format is an innovative use of technology to (hopefully) make this tool more meaningful and helpful to journalists.

    But here are some concerns about getting rid of press releases too quickly: 1) new technology may be too bleeding edge for most companies to employ; 2) journalists are just one audience for a press releases (prospects, investors, employees, etc. read them as well); 3) I am reminded of the cliché “Garbage In, Garbage Out” (if the content of the press release is off-base it doesn’t matter how you package it); and 4) it doesn’t replace the importance of relationship building and customizing pitches to the media.

    However, this is interesting and representative of the impact new technologies are having on the PR profession.
    http://www.shiftcomm.com/Web20Releases/5232006.html

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  11. Am I a knowledge worker? God, I hope not. I had a teacher in college (mind you this was a business professor) say "In 2010, there will be no press releases generated at all. Press releases will die away and everything will be real-time updates directly to anyone who wants them..." RSS? But, when you think about it. Those RSS feeds have to come from somewhere right? And, generally, it's not from computer spouting off info. I think as long as you have talented writers working with real news, press releases will continue to prosper. If they don't, what am I going to do? I guess there's always politics.

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