Is the press release dead?

Libby

About the author

Libby Cutress - I'm an Account Executive at CCgroup and work across the Clean Technology, FST and Mobile and Telecoms teams. If I didn't work in PR I would probably be pursuing a career in cricket, as I was scouted for the Sussex girls under 14s team in Year Seven.
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Well, no.

Our blog post on the 10th of May shows the importance of the press release in Japanese PR – yep, they still give them out by hand… (watch the video for more on this apparent craziness).

Yesterday, however, we were invited to the Press Association HQ for a panel discussion on the future of the press release. From the beginning, it was clear that the press release was far from being extinct; in fact, a show of hands from the audience made up of in-house and agency PR teams, revealed only one person was ready to give up the press release (brave…). For most of us, the press release allows us to communicate our key messages clearly and easily, giving the journalist the first sprout of a story idea.

Giving their thoughts on the validity of the press release was the Press Association’s very own Teilo Colley, the newswire editor, and Jim Grice, Editor of Video. Joining them was journalist, media consultant and trainer Anna Averkiou, plus fellow PR folk Louise Stewart-Muir, MD at Say Communications and Simon Quarendon, MD at Keene Communications, who moderated the session.

Collectively, the panel felt the same as the audience, agreeing that the press release as a communications tool is still a necessary part of a communications strategy. However, it was stressed that it is only one part of the outreach required today to execute a successful PR campaign. Although, perhaps obvious to you and me, apparently this isn’t true of PR on the whole.

These days, words are not enough. To attract a journalist’s attention, whose resources are continually strained, you need to back up your press release with additional content. For us in the B2B PR and Tech PR world, this means creating interesting collateral such as infographics, soundbites, images and even video clips. It was also stressed that spokesperson availability is key; this can provide each publication with an individual news hook and story that is exclusive to them.

At the end of the session each panellist was asked for their dos and don’ts:

Name   Dos Don’ts
Louise Build press releases in to SEO strategy Put out non news worthy releases
Anna Be relevant and take a targeted approach Use ‘puffy PR jargon’
Jim Regard the press release as only the beginning of the outreach process Only create a press release other collateral is vital
     

The above and the other takeaways from the session may seem more than obvious, but according to the expert panel, the PR world still needs educating in the use of the press release. At CCgroup, we use it as an aid to our campaigns. PR is fundamentally about relationships and relationships are not created through a generic email sent to hundreds of journalists, but through a targeted and engaging approach.

Thanks to BusinessWire for organising a great breakfast and a lively debate.