David Meerman Scott has written a small e-book on the subject of press releases in the Web 2.0 world.
You can download it here:
One of his arguments is that press releases aren’t just for journalists – that they can be used as a direct end user communication tool. Lets read that again – press release – ie a release for the press. If you send it to a someone who isn’t a journalist, then surely it is not a press release?
I can (sort of) see where he is coming from – that PR should be about Public Relations in its widest sense rather Press Relations. But what he is really saying is that you don’t just have to target journalists – you can target your end user customers and/or other relevant publics – but this feels like a semantic argument – if you send a communication direct to your target customer, then this is direct marketing by any other name – why call it a press release? It also ignores the fact that press releases are still presumably conceived and written with the needs of the press in mind (I fully accept that the intention and the reality of press releases generally may diverge widely on this point).
Perhaps we are moving to a point where traditional marketing disciplines are all going to merge into one.
Reading between the lines (and in spite of his comments to the contrary), you do get the impression that what he really means is that journalists don’t really matter anymore. I’d welcome comments from members of the Fourth Estate on this viewpoint 😉