For several years now I’ve been reading articles in the PR trade press telling me that the press release is in a similar state to Monty Python’s legendary parrot – it is dead, it is no more, it has ceased to be, etc
The argument, put forward by the likes of Government Comms Chief Alex Aiken, is that the press release is old school and has no place in the new digital media landscape.
I beg to differ. Pick up any newspaper or magazine today and I’ll bet that at least half of the news stories you are reading began life as a press release. That ratio will be even higher in the case of local newspapers and trade magazines which would struggle to fill their pages if it wasn’t for press releases. Most local newspapers are understaffed and simply don’t have the resources to go out looking for news stories, so they are dependent on PR professionals feeding them press releases.
Critics of the press release often say that it is of no use to new online media outlets. Is that really true? Online publications and news websites are just as under resourced as traditional media titles and therefore just as desperate for content.
Of course, a press release is not the only way to approach the media, but it’s a good starting point. If I contact a journalist by phone or email with an idea for a story, in most cases they will ask me to send them something in writing; in other words, a press release!
I’ve been doing this Public Relations game for a very long time now and I’ve lost count of the number of times one of my press releases has been published verbatim. I’m often amused when journalists put their by-line on a story when all that he or she has done is simply copy and paste my press release.
The bottom line is that I will stop issuing press releases when journalists stop using them.