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 😉
2 replies on “Why should press releases just be for journalists?”
Releases are for the people you want to send your message to; historically that’s been journalists, now it might well be “citizen journalists”, bloggers, or if you think you can reach them and they care, the public. Plenty of companies already put releases on their Web sites for all to see. I’m seeing Proctor & Gamble – often a bellweather switching from advertising to marketing. Who do you talk to is a wider question. But if companies think they can pump the same press releases that set journalists digging for a story of real interest to the blog writers who don’t have the same mix of politeness and consciousness that there’s more to it than saying what you think today, they may get something of a shock. There’s reaching the widest number of people, there’s the reputation of the organ (atoms or bits) and there’s the focus of the view taken; none of them the exclusive perogative of the press. Do I want the same information as a punter? Not necessarily – I may not even want the same information as the next journalist. If this development does’t become more about saying the right thing to the right people and less about snubbing paid writers for unpaid writers, it’s not going to do more than get bad press 😉
I never wanted press releases except to get the name of the spokesperson who would trot out the party line when I did the real job of talking to someone as part of story gathering.
We’re a long way off blogs being the place to annouce though there’s plenty of that going on at places like TechCrunch.