Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

State of the press release

Posted on | October 15, 2007 | No Comments

Lou Covey has a very thoughtful post on his State of the Media blog about the State of the Press Release.
In short, Lou says press releases are ignored (still) by the media except when the media misses an interesting story that began as a press release, and then they scream bloody murder. The reason press releases are so undervalued by the media is that they have remained static documents for so long. Even today, a few years after “Web 2.0” entered the lexicon and 13 years after the web emerged in the public consciousness, press releases are handled the same way they have in their 100 years of existence: text on paper or a web page.
People on this side of the media aisle have to start treating press releases as interactive entities, almost mini-web pages. They need to become the solar system to the company site’s universe. Very few people today insert useful links into their press releases. Why????? WTF?
Try links, try embedded and relevant video, audio, widgets, gadgets and blidgets.
That’s the Times Square approach. Many call it the “social-media press release.”
Shift Communications has flogged a pretty straight forward template.
But there’s more. In an era in which the company is the medium is the message, you gotta take more control over what goes out as a “press release.” Instead of simply announcing products and promotions and the like, amend the press release strategy so that you put out micro-announcements, whatever they may be. Write them completely differently from a traditional press release (inverted pyramid-ish style). Write ’em like blog entries or humor columns or what-not.
Lou points out that press releases are legal documents. They’re also very important communications documents, windows into a company and ways to drive traffic and messages.
I echo Lou: They must be rethought.

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No Responses to “State of the press release”

  1. Loring Wirbel
    October 16th, 2007 @ 7:35 am

    But in doing so, you have to be sure you have something interesting to say. Let’s take the Web 2.0 application space, which should be inherently more interesting than EDA or communication middleware due to its consumer orientation. Half the reason the gossip blogs cover Web 2.0 companies more than anyone else is the companies are so insufferably boring and me-too. If it wasn’t for the occasional DRM battle, their trajectories would be tedious to watch. And micro-press-releases would only compound the problem. Before you seek funding as a Web 2.0 company, make sure you have a reason to exist. Before you release a networked press release, make sure you have something interesting to say. And remember the most commonly heard mantra of 2007: “Gawd, not another social-networking site/environment/alliance. Please shoot me now.”

  2. Lou Covey
    October 16th, 2007 @ 9:04 am

    Loring’s right, but it doesn’t change the fact that we have to start doing something different because the old ways are infecting the social press release movement already.

    I got started thinking about the issue back in January when Chris Edwards posted a piece in his blog ( about how ridiculous some the of social releases were. Companies are forgetting why they issue a release in the first place. They’ve tacked on so many objectives (raise visibility, sales collateral, ego stroking, etc.) that they have forgotten the primary purpose is the transmission of information. If you do that, all the rest come into play.

    But the problem with social releases and the more techy startups outside Web 2.0 is getting them to recognize the value of other media, like audio and video and just links to other ideas. I’m just now getting traction with a client on these ideas and they are paying off big time. But getting a client to the point of dipping the toe in the water is tough.

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