PRESS MARK: Educate your client on how alive their press release really is

5701313473_71e59ddf6d_bA simple question dropped into my Facebook timeline this week: ‘Press releases. Defunct or not?’ 

Not again, I thought.

But hang on.

Eleven years ago tech journalist Tom Foremski demolished them in his post Die, Press Release Die! Die! Die!. The bottle of wine and frustration-fuelled rant the post was a napalm strike on the pointlessness of sending out press releases in a web-enabled world.

Don’t send words, he shouted.

Send words, images, video, audio and contribute to the debate, instead.

As a compass to steer through changing waters this is a supreme piece of piloting.

Yet, I was struck by the number of people in the Public Sector Headspace Facebook group discussion still using press releases as a primary comms channel.

It’s what senior people expect, was the general gist.

Educate the client

A while back I write a post on the Apple designer Johnny Ives. I was struck by a poster on his wall that was just as much as a piece of table banging as Smith’s press release takedown. In a long list of reminders the poster argued:
“Believe in your f*cking self. Stay up all f*cking night. Work outside of your f*cking habits. Know when to f*cking speak up. F*cking collaborate. Don’t f*cking procrastinate. Get over your f*cking self. Keep f*cking learning. Form follows f*cking function.
And most importantly of all:
Educate the f*cking client.

Newspapers are not newspapers anymore… and we’re not in Kansas

Five years ago Stijn Debrouwere in his post ‘Fungible’ pointed out that journalism has changed.
News will be news. But the ecosystem will explode, and traditional media companies will only be a tiny part of it. If you think about it, that’s already sort of true right now.

Take Debrouwere’s thinking and look around you. Small ads have moved to Buy and Sell Facebook groups. Property ads have moved to Zoopla. News has moved to council websites and neighbourhood Facebook groups. Display ads are on Facebook. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we’re in a different place.

There’s still a place for newspapers. They’ve just changed and the content they need has changed.

But how about the free sheet, I hear you say, that fills it’s pages with council press releases? How long, I reply, do you think that will go on for?

Here’s what I think you should educate the client on press releases.

If you send a press release to many newspapers they go into the bin.

Newspapers don’t see themselves as newspapers they see themselves as media companies who may just happen to print something. Send them images and video that work on the web.

A press release is written in journalese. This is not English. Or the language of the web.

In an emergency, the last thing you want to do is construct a press release. Post to Twitter. It’s where the journalists are.

Yet, if you want to reach a constituency of over 50s who are most at home with printed newspapers then a press release is fine.

You’ll miss other demographics with a press release.

As a primary go-to one channel to rule them all effective channel, press releases are dead.

As one of many tools, they live on.

Use the right channel at the right time.

Educate your client.


Picture credit: Clint McMahon / Flickr.

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