For the last time, the press release is not dead

The old argument about the death of the press release has resurfaced again, much to the author’s dismay.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about whether the press release is dead. Too much if you ask me. I will not link to any of those articles here. It’s honestly a waste of your time and mine.

I understand there are new platforms for sharing information with the press. I prefer to approach the press in whichever way I want. Some days it is appropriate to send an email or make a call. Other days I leave it to Twitter to help me out.

But what about the press release?

I’m not even sure what people are talking about anymore when they mention “the press release.” When I started in PR we had “the release.” It was a formal document with a set structure. I was taught that it had a header, a subhead, a first paragraph that restated the header and subhead, an agency quote, some overview text, maybe a supportive quote, and a wrap up. You also can’t forget the all-important boilerplate. God I hate boilerplates. Informative? Yes. Useful? No.

Then I learned about the “media alert” and “the statement.” I loved their get-to-the-point format and ease of approval. Then there was the “teaser” to move the interested to your online pressroom for the full release. Before long the teaser led to online photo albums and video.

Throughout it all, the press release survives as if without it there would be no record of an event, product launch, or corporate opinion. Yet I love the press release. It serves a purpose—a defined existence that has outlasted the news it bestows upon its audience.

So what about its death?

It’s a tool. In the right hands and in the appropriate situation it can help your cause. Just like your other tools, the press release’s function depends on you, the writer. So can we drop this discussion once and for all? Either write press releases or don’t.

Brian Adams consults with nonprofits, including Komera Project, regarding communications strategy. Brian was previously senior director of communications at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley and the head of media and community relations for the MSPCA-Angell.

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