Reinvigorating the 'press releases are dead' debate, Amy Gahran (Contentious) argues that the press release format has outlived its limited usefulness, so organizations would do well to stop clinging to it:
"..if your goal is to reach and serve journalists, then a fact sheet is probably is a more effective and attractive vehicle than a traditional press release."
She notes hearing James Clark of Room 214, use a new term, the search release.
In a nutshell, he clarified that in most cases the core audience for a “press release” (at least, the ones his firm creates) are not journalists and editors. Rather, they’re meant for current or potential customers, investors, partners, affiliates, opinion leaders or anyone else who represents some significant connection to (or can have a significant effect on) the company.
Amy then makes a shrewd comment:
However, I do still think that the traditional press release format is generally stodgy and lacks credibility even when well written. Therefore, I think it’s even less appropriate for a general audience (or a business audience) than for an audience of journalists and editors.
But where does this all take us? Here, apparently...
...if you’re trying to connect with a different or wider audience directly via online media, then just try publishing an article rather than a release. Make sure it includes whatever info people would need to follow up (contact, links, etc.). Be transparent about who it’s coming from. And please, please make it engaging and relevant to the audience’s perspective – NOT stodgy.
So, unless I am badly misunderstanding something, the argument has gone all the way back to the 'cut out the middle men, PR is dead' territory!!!
For me there is a great danger that some PR blog evangelists are forgetting that although interactivity is exciting and stimulating, for a lot of people gathering information is a relatively passive experience. Search releases might be useful - as long as someone is sufficiently motivated to search for them. Likewise, an interesting article on a blog or other platform over which the PR has control, might be desirable - as long as somebody chances upon it and is tempted to read.
But, from my perspective, it would be a reckless PR who chose to confine their messages only to those who are actively looking for that information.
One of the great joys of a British Sunday is that we can spend hours reading quality newspapers packed with informative articles - about things we never knew we were interested in!
We depend on teams of journalists to do the hunting for us.
Better news releases, yes. An end to sloppy targeting and fluff, yes.
But dispense with well-targeted news releases that anticipate the news values of relevant publications?
Not for a long time yet.