FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Tongue Firmly Incheek,
(San Antonio, TX) January 24, 2006 – Let’s face it, journalists hate press releases but see them as a necessary evil. In that spirit, we would like to announce the widely speculated demise (almost) of the press release.
Instead, companies will speak directly to the customer and bypass the “traditional” media. No matter that research shows that consumers find the message more credible when received through a third-party, such as a media organization. Or that most bloggers and other Social Media rely heavily on reporters and their in-the-field reporting.
The press release, a pesky denizen of laziness and a productivity- maker for interns, will be replaced by a newsletter, a fact sheet, a pitch, a Wiki, the Internet, Blogs, RSS feeds, Search Releases, Podcasts, Vodcasts and [name your preferred communication channel here]. If a press release at any time seems warranted for the situation, PR professionals are advised to try something else (anything else) or to sit on their hands and wait for further instruction.
Not since Ivy Lee (the first practitioner of public relations) invented the “news release” in 1906 for the Pennsylvania Railroad following a major accident, has this issue been so Contentious.
To give some historical context, Lee convinced the railroad to distribute the press release to journalists before they received other versions of the story.
Reporters loved it the first time; however, even in 1906, reporters didn’t like press releases. The second time he used it they called it no better than paid advertising. Lee responded by penning PR's first Code of Ethics, or as he called them, his “Declaration of Principles.”
According to Zhenya Gene Senyak in 2000, a marketing communications writer, some public relations professionals hadn’t been using press releases since 1990.
In his post PR Is Dead Again, Phil Gomes of Blogservations writes, “I had once said that the “PR flagellation meme” happens every quarter or two. We're right on time!”
While Gomes is mostly talking about the practice of public relations, many believe that PR and press releases are synonymous anyway.
Incomplete Timeline of the
“Press Release Is Dead” Conversation:
August 8, 2000
Zhenya Gene Senyak writes about the death of the press release
August 14, 2002
High-tech journalist Jon Udell marvels at PR using RSS and opines about how he hates the current process of getting news via press relase
March 29, 2005
BL Ochman says the press release is dead
July 13, 2005
Amy Gahran calls for the end of the press release, and ignites a firestorm
January 23, 2006
Doctor Gahran asks the PR parents of the Press Release to “Pull the Plug”
January 24, 2006
The press release still is alive for three reasons:
1. SEC disclosure requirements for public companies, most blogs (individually) and corporate Web sites don’t have enough reach to be construed as widely available
2. Online press rooms need them for content that means something to reporters, RSS-enabled is better but not widely used by the non-tech media
3. Search Engine Optimized releases get read by media consumers
Please standby until we get confirmation of the time of death, at which time we will call a press conference on the front steps of the Blogosphere.
Communication Overtones is a blog that explores how public relations can navigate the blogosphere and find an authentic voice in today's social media. They also want to say that while they aren’t fond of press releases, they will use them when they fit into the strategy of a given campaign and will make the concession of calling them news releases in the future. As this tool becomes obsolete, it will naturally fall out of the toolkit and never be seen again. Communication Overtones take no responsibility for any forward-looking statements contained in this post and warn the readership to read America’s Finenst News Source, The Onion to truly understand the meaning of farce.
Check here for other recent thoughts via Technorati about this topic.
Credit: The inspiration for this post was a from a press release about a press release by Bunk Magazine