Is the Press Release an Endangered Species?

When I was younger, I “adopted” a manatee, the endangered species otherwise known as a sea cow. I don’t know why I loved these creatures so much, but I did. To this day, they fascinate me. I even had the pleasure of swimming with them, not once, but twice during the past two years. Similar to the manatee, the press release is threatened among its kind, yet it is a PR tool that I still care for.

With the rise of social media and real-time communication, it has been said that sending out a press release to generate news is a dying communications tool. In the B2B space, however, I still see the act of distributing a press release as a cost-efficient and effective method. Keep in mind, though, that the press release is changing and it must evolve to fit in with the web and social media outlets. Here is what you should be considering when sending out a press release:

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – If you are sending out your release over the wire, it is critical that the copy be optimized. Meaning, you should include the keywords that your target audience uses when searching for your product/service on the web.
  2. Multimedia – People are emotionally motivated by images and compelling content. Why not add a video with the release that tells a deeper story than flat words can?
  3. Tracking – With certain distribution tools, you can track and see exactly who is – or is not – opening the release. I like to see who is not opening the release so that I can try a new approach the next time. It is my goal to find out what is compelling to them.
  4. Better content – There is an overload of news, so the new press release must be completely relevant to the audience and avoid industry jargon. Avoid fancy words that your audience would never use. Do not use buzz words like “state-of-the-art” and “revolutionary” – unless the subject of your news release truly is “the best thing since sliced bread.”
  5. Plays well with others – The press release alone may not land you a cover feature, but it will generate exposure. Sending out the press release through social media tools, like Twitter, will help it go viral and be spread for others to see.

Is the press release the be-all and end-all for communications? No.

Is it a means to an end to generate awareness and news? Yes.

For these reasons, think twice before calling it quits on using the press release as a communications tool. It may not be as endangered as you think. And, for me, I’ll keep rooting for the press release and my beloved manatee.

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