Monday, October 26, 2015

Zombies and news releases

Every few months, someone's predicting the demise of the press release.

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And, if they're an editor or blogger or journalist, I think: baloney.

My colleague Denny Wilkins shared with me a "press releases are dead" post from Medium. The writer argues that issuing news releases is a zombie activity. Something PR people do automatically. A practice that cannot be killed. 

And, like most who call for an end to news releases, the writer bemoans the flood of releases that clutter most editors' email in-boxes. He praises videos and Tweets that tell an organization's story digitally, and therefore "better." Because Tweets and videos don't clutter his in-box.

Stop whining. You receive an over-abundance of releases because your employer gutted the editorial staff. You're now receiving releases those departed editors no longer read. Because they're selling Kias across from the Galleria.

In the PR world, the news release is akin to the atom. It's the basic building block of most public relations messages. It serves as a foundation for most other PR tactics: social media, media advisories, fact sheets, talking points for executives. Tweets and videos don't just materialize; they're based on someone's writing, and may have their genesis in a news release.

A news release is a starting point where you organize facts in a compelling, concise narrative. Write a headline with strong keywords. Craft a fact-based subhead or two. Keep it close to one page. Now you've got a cornerstone for the rest of your PR activities.

News releases aren't dead. Many news outlets still use them, even if they're pained to admit it. 

As PR pros, we need not apologize for producing news releases. However, we need to own our news releases, start to finish, and not send them scattershot to ever editor's email address we find. That's what earns well-deserved editorial scorn.