Beyond PR

Oct 21, 2010

The Death – and Rebirth – of the Press Release

Have you followed the “press release is dead” argument?  If you are in PR it is hard to avoid.  It has been blogged and tweeted about for years now.

The more narrow your conception of the press release the more likely this argument is to resonate.  Certainly the printed words on paper variety is destined for display on a typewriter or telex machine in the communications museum.  The name press release itself is obsolete.  Press is only part of the goal now and it is more like publishing than releasing.

PR Newswire multimedia press release

A fully-loaded multimedia press release incorporating video, images, links and more

I like to compare the evolution of press release to a plant that withers with the first frost but not before spreading its seeds through the landscape.  With the change of seasons the offspring are bigger, richer and greener.

So what has happend to the press release?  Is it dead, or has it been reborn as a rich package of digital content that is more like a landing page or microsite?

The publication of a release now has a very visual impact.  Not just in terms of fonts and  format but more significantly with the inclusion of multimedia elements ranging from logos to photos, video and slide shows.  Through links it has become a resource to far more information than can be written on its front page.  And through optimization and social media sharing it has become a distribution capsule.

The growth in the potential audience is even more dramatic.  Where we used to add slugs like “to assignment editor” we now are thinking of reaching customers, investors, consumers, business partners and news junkies, not to mention friends, followers and connections.

So I won’t be participating in the memorialization of this age-old communications tool.   I’m much more interested in celebrating what it has become and anxiously planning how to cultivate its future growth.

Authored by Ken Dowell, EVP, PR Newswire

For more thinking on the opportunities digital content and social media offer today’s PR pros, download our new white paper, “PR Rising,” which details how leading public relations practitioners are using multiple content formats and channels to build visibility of and engagement with their messages.

4 Comments on Blog Post Title

Keith Trivitt 09:37 EDT on Oct 22, 2010

I completely agree with your assessment, Ken. The press release continues to have value and relevance for a number of reasons, but perhaps the biggest is that the changing dynamics of the media environment have forced public relations practitioners to adopt better, more efficient and more useful techniques and tactics within their press release development that actually offer both the media and consumers real, measurable value from the release.

It’s funny: AdAge had a couple of big fits recently trying to claim “death of the press release,” with its media columnist, Simon Dumenco, even penning a fake obituary for the press release (, and the publication running a poll asking whether the release is really dead. The final tally of that poll ( showed that 80% of marketing, advertising and public relations professionals feel the press release is NOT dead and still has clear and discernable value to a variety of audiences.

Are there still press releases put out that serve little to no purpose and are mostly just SEO filler? Absolutely. But in 2010, I believe many PR professionals have moved beyond the press release as a corporate mouthpiece schtick and are developing news releases that delivery timely, accurate information. And in a digital age where the veracity of news and information is becoming increasingly difficult to ascertain, I believe press releases will continue to play an important role in providing context to official news.

Of course, we should always be using Twitter, blogs and other forms of digital/social comms to engage our audiences with this information, but it’s very, very difficult to provide any type of context to major news in 140 characters.

I’m of the belief that claims of the “death of the press release” are over-hyped and without much merit.

Keith Trivitt Associate Director of Public Relations Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)

Lisa Merriam 09:20 EDT on Oct 26, 2010

Love it–Google “Dead Press Release” and you get three million results. Nope, not dead. (Though I do think the Social Media Release is looking at minute 14 of its 15 minutes of fame). More:

Sarah Skerik 09:35 EDT on Oct 26, 2010

Et tu, Google? Well said, Lisa. We agree – though we are seeing a lot more use of multimedia and other content within press releases these days.

­ 05:05 EDT on Sep 18, 2014

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