Long Live the Press Release

It’s been said time and time again, often to provoke controversy among the PR industry, that the press release is dead. Ad Age Media Columnist Simon Dumenco made the latest argument in his article last week, RIP, the Press Release (1906-2010) — and Long Live the Tweet, in which he claims Twitter is an appropriate stand-in for the age-old press release—based on its use among celebrities and in crisis situations like the JetBlue-Steve Slater debacle.

Sure, Twitter is a great tool for reporters who want to track specific companies, products and brands. And on the flip side, PR teams should include the medium in communications outreach. However, a clear and concise media pitch with a detailed press release is still necessary for communicating the ins and outs of news.

Based on first-hand experience, reporters still use press releases to gain insight and, in some cases, still pull direct quotes from releases for their articles. That’s not to say that the press release is perfect. It certainly has a few flaws – more or less depending on its author – but I don’t expect it to vanish anytime soon.

Regarding Dumenco’s Twitter vs. press releases reasoning, here are another five reasons why the press release isn’t dead.

1. Celebrities’ use of Twitter isn’t a PR strategy or a tactic that should be copied by corporate America. On the contrary, corporate reputations are built on transparency and market relevancy, both of which require strategic, complete correspondence tactics with media.

2. Don’t tell TMZ or US Weekly, but there is such a thing as non-celebrity news that requires in-depth reporting and fact gathering.

3. Sure, a celebrity relationship status update can be accomplished in a tweet, but try boiling down a new technology product description to 140 characters. I don’t think so.

4. A tweet can give a company or a celebrity a valuable forum to apologize for a mishap or handle customer complaints, but a solid crisis communications plan needs more formality, including further strategy, integration with the marketing program’s goals and planning.

5. And finally, Dumenco’s key example of a celebrity using Twitter successfully instead of a press release – do you really want PR direction from Kanye West?


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