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Is the Press Release Dead?

I’ve written about the SMR as a newer way of disseminating information, but does that mean the traditional press release is dead?  We saw that Tom Foremski believes so, and that certainly others disagree, but let’s delve into this issue a little more.

Simon Dumenco’s article hailing the death of the press release was met with much criticism in his comments section. Several responses in opposition to this claimed that many firms still issue thousands of press releases everyday, and that many people preferred the traditional press release.  Some suggested that only the nature of the release is changing.

Is there a clear cut answer to this question? According to an article written by Ian Campstick, Todd Defren, who helped form the SMR claims that most PR people hate the press release.  Defren considers them to be too manufactured, overdone, and not newsworthy. Then again, according to a survey of journalists, 75% said that well targeted press releases with valuable content are still useful. As mentioned in the post, it seems obvious that a device that is highly effective, almost no matter what the medium, would still be an appreciated tool, but the fact that 25% of journalists still rejected the press release means that the 75% find something of value in the traditional press release.

These contradictions may make it seem like there is no answer, but perhaps the enthusiasm of the debate means that the press release is not dead quite yet. Some certainly still use it while some definitely do not. Knowing who to send either a social media release or a traditional press release may be the key.

The Social Media Release

November 5, 2010 1 comment

Example of an SMR

Technology is changing, and communicators are trying to change with it. In the “old” days,  practitioners would send a press release that looked like this. It’s very text heavy and written like a news article. Some people, like Tom Foresmki, argue that the traditional press release needs to die, while others believe it’s still a useful tool.  The biggest complaint Foremski has is the artificial nature of the press release. It is examined and reexamined by committees and lawyer making them look more like manipulators than communicators, and they contain a heavy slant. What would be the solution to this problem?

In 2006, Todd Defren led the way for the Social Media Press Release by offering up his template to practitioners. The IABC offered its own model too At first glance, it looks a lot different from a traditional press release.  It’s not the normal inverted pyramid style as the SMR (social media release) segments information into a fact sheet layout style, and it allows for many components that a normal press release can’t have like RSS feeds, audio and visual media,  comments (on some),  related links, and other features.  The segmentation also allows for journalists and bloggers to have an easier time picking out what to report on as it has its own section for attributable quotes.

Traditional news release. The difference is dramatic.

Kaukab Smith of SmartBrief tells us in her article that authors and analysts, Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakendridge state in their book that social media releases are chances to get information that means something to people in a way that actually reaches them.  This means information gets to people other than journalists. Smith explains that SMRs target traditional journalists (and other gatekeepers), bloggers, and the general public. Instead of sending a press release to just a journalist via email, an SMR can focus on mass accessibility Because of this, Kaukab says SMRs should be written for search engines, everyday people, and social-networking sites.

According to her article, creating a successful SMR means using a normal and friendly voice, not an uber-tailored voice that comes off as impersonal like in the traditional news release. Keep headlines short and interesting. Choose keywords that will help in your search engine optimization. Make sharing and feedback easy, and make your release easy to skim.  All of these things should make an SMR easy to digest for all of your audiences and will hopefully get your story out there.

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