Press releases are thought to be a staple in the public relations industry. It’s our main tool for attaining press coverage on events, stories and products. However, after talking in one of my classes about a series of highly unfortunate and ineffective press releases, the thought that there might be a better tool was circling through my head. Then I read an article that proposed public relations professionals ought to kill the press release.
Although seemingly dramatic, the concept of killing the press release isn’t a far-fetched idea. Tom Foremski proposes in his 2006 article, “Die Press release! Die! Die! Die!” that press releases are useless and outdated. He instead suggests that industry leaders change the layout of the news piece.
Instead of a one page promotion for whatever event or piece of information we felt was newsworthy, he proposed we create an interactive news packet. In this way journalists would be provided with quotes, statistics, tags and links to sources. It would allow for faster coverage of events and stories. It would enable journalists to focus less on pulling together information, and more on the spin of their stories.
Interesting, one of his points, the inclusion of links in press releases has become a common practice. This is especially true in social media news releases. As the internet and the use of social media has evolved so has the use of online press releases.
These modernized versions of traditional press releases retain the same purpose: to inform people of a newsworthy happening. However, they are more individualized and contain infinitely more information. Social media press releases often include hyperlinks, photos, audio clippings and videos. They also are made to be shared.
Information is broken down into sections to make it easily tweetable and shareable. This chunking is exactly what Foremski proposed we do. Sections are tagged to be found with the search of a hashtag, and everything a journalist needs to know is a mere click away.
Traditional press releases haven’t died yet, although I think we might’ve killed a few editors with how poorly some of them are still written. However, the tides are changing in our internet-loving world. The push for social media news releases is increasing, and maybe someday soon Foremski will be able to rest in peace as we lay the traditional press release down to sleep.