Still thinking about 'search releases,' still thinking about Amy Gahran's ideas, still hoping I am not turning into a dinosaur...
Amy writes: "With any communication, it’s important to clarify your goals and know your audience. Given that, here’s why I still think search releases offer generally more merit than traditional press releases…"
Knowing your audience is vital and I am not easily going to move from a view that anyone targeting, say, regional media in the UK in an area that is not covered by specialist reporters would be ill-advised to abandon the 'traditional' news releases that provide the inspiration for a considerable proportion of the stories that make the papers (and as news teams continue to contract, there is little sign of this changing).
Where I think Amy's arguments is at its strongest is in the use of search releases as a second string to the bow. Whereas, if I were a practitioner, I would not want to depend on a journalist to stumble on my story as part of a supposedly structured trawl for newslines I can see a great deal of value in making sure that once a journalist is on the track of a story idea, 'Googling' the topic throws up a well-written, informative background. Amy puts it like this:
First of all, serendipity is a key benefit of search releases. The point is that people will be searching for what interests them, so if you optimize your message as a search release (or even better, just an announcement article that’s not formatted like a traditional release), your announcement will appear high in their search results. In other words, they’ll find you even if they’re not looking for you, as long as you’re relevant to what they want.
(I am not sure exactly what Amy means by something being 'formatted as a traditional release' - I hope this doesn't rule out structuring the fact sheet in a way that the first par draws in the reader by being newsy and compelling, and that information is ordered in a way that mirrors the traditional news pyramid).
To my mind, the creative practitioner needs continually to look to new ways of reaching audiences (as Tom Murphy argues here) but must not make the mistake of looking to far over the horizon and discarding traditinal tactics while they still have a lot to offer.