Why the printed press release is all but dead

Media relations pros must commit to the new individualized, personalized social press release written to fit exactly the social channel it’s destined for, this expert argues.

PR seems to be waiting for the death of the paper press release as impatiently as it’s been waiting for the advent of the Mobile Age. Why is the old press release losing importance so quickly? The answer is simple: The vast majority of its recipients can’t be bothered to read it.

The information bubble is to blame. The times when journalists lacked topics are long gone. You no longer have to be a journalist to be an opinion leader. You can gather loyal readers and spectators without a media title.

The new form of the press release

This shift on the one hand makes media relations more difficult, but on the other, thanks to technology, reaching the end user with our brand’s message is much easier. And the press release has taken on a new, disembodied, electronic social form.

The social press release shouldn’t resemble the traditional version. Its content should be useful, its form attractive. These two criteria are the keys to success.

Quality vs. quantity

A good press release delivers facts, figures, quotes, photos, videos, insights and information about a brand, product or event in an interesting way. These serve as the basis for a story.

One thing is clear—mass distribution of press releases is in rapid decline. Google is more and more restrictive about content duplicated on multiple channels. A list with a lot of links to sites where your release was published gives you a nice coverage report for your boss or client but tells you nothing about how effective your release was in making reporters interested in your story.

In spite of an impressive number of online coverages, there’s less and less chance that your customers will Google it. That’s why you should avoid publishing exact duplicates of your messages on many social sites. This sort of “wide coverage” may actually hurt your visibility. The thing that matters is to avoid mass distribution of the exact same content. Always re-write, re-design, re-purpose your story to fit the social channel you want it on.

In this context the “new” media relations is not new at all. Personal contact with a journalist gets more and more important. A well-matched group of journalists plus direct contact with them will help us decide whether our news is good enough to be written up into an interesting story.

Why owned media is superseding traditional media

Building brand awareness through owned media becomes an increasingly more attractive alternative to traditional media relations. To maximize its potential, your social press release needs to be aimed directly at your brand’s consumers, building its reach through owned communication channels.

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Brands often turn away from traditional PR tools in favor of building brand channels that let them narrate stories adjusted to the customer’s needs and purposes. Brand journalism is content written in journalistic style, brand stories engagingly told. Intel, IBM, General Electric, Microsoft and McDonald’s are global pioneers of brand journalism.

The danger of ignoring or minimizing new PR technology

When we look at communication by the biggest global brands we conclude that traditional PR is only a drop in the sea of brands’ communication needs. PR changes with technology and depends on it. Those who ignore this truth will stay in the same place, never realizing that those who stay in the same place are doomed to go backwards.

Joanna Drabent is CEO & co-founder of Prowly, a CRM tool for PR professionals. Joanna is a PR specialist. She’s worked on both the agency and client sides. She also managed her own PR agency.

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