One of the most common questions that we get from our clients is, “I keep reading that the press release is dead, so why are you suggesting we put one out?” In a media climate dominated by blogs and other non-traditional press, it’s a great question.
While it is trendy to declare the press release “dead,” it’s also flat-out wrong. The only press releases that are DOA these days are those irrelevant pieces of fluff that are issued for no other reason than to drive inbound links from online databases. Real press releases – written to communicate real news to real stakeholders rather than to game the search engines – matter today as much as they did when Ivy Lee (regarded by many as the father of public relations) issued the first release in 1906 on behalf of the Pennsylvania Railroad, after one of its trains crashed near Atlantic City.
Why? Because there is still no better way to package a story than a crisply-written articulation of a news item that takes the reader straight to the point and explains why a new product launch or update, executive hire, acquisition, or partnership matters.
So who are the stakeholders a good press release can reach and influence?
- Investors: If you want your news to get on Wall Street’s radar, a press release can do that. In fact the SEC requires companies to issue public releases once a quarter.
- Journalists: Bombarded with fluff pitches and releases, reporters view a legitimate and relevant news release as a breath of fresh air (as long as you send it to the right reporters with a short note that indicates why the story is newsworthy). Even if a reporter doesn’t run with the news, it is a great way to get on or stay on her radar.
- Customers and sales leads: Maintaining a dialogue with existing customers and staying in front of prospects is critical. Good press releases can be used as content assets to keep the dialogue alive and communicate company momentum.
- Current and prospective employees: Everybody likes to be associated with a winner and also feel that their employer is keeping them in the loop. Press releases serve both objectives.
- Search engines: While it’s no longer possible to game the system by “release spamming,” a press release that journalists and bloggers feel is important enough to include as an organic link in their content becomes SEO gold.
So the next time, you hear that “the press release is dead” send the grim reaper our way. We’ll set him straight.