When we first started out in the Public Relations major, one of the first things we learn about are press releases; what goes into them, why they are important, and how they have been used in the past and present. And why wouldn’t we? Press Releases share information with journalists so they have a story to get out to the general public. It is a great way of getting the word out about your company and brand, without having to pay anything.
So what could go wrong?
In 2006, a blogger for Silicon Valley Watcher by the name of Tom Foremski called for the demise of the press release. “Press releases are created by committees, edited by lawyers, and then sent out at great expense through Businesswire or PRnewswire to reach the digital and physical trash bins of tens of thousands of journalists. This madness has to end.” (Foremski, 2006). His comments may have shocked the PR community, but he may have had some method to his madness. Later in his article he described what could be done instead of a press release and how we, as PR practitioners, could change with the other media markets and the technology that goes with it. He makes a list of tidbits of helpful information about the company that could be sent to journalists, instead of a padded up with fluff press release.
Enter the social media release. Shift Communications took advantage of the hype and talk about the blog post Foremski wrote and published the first social media release template to the public. The template of the social media release has changed over the years with new social media and technology changing how PR practitioners use things, but the key aspect of them is brevity. Everything is bulleted in order for journalists to easily pick and choose the information they want to put in their articles or for people to skim while going through RSS feeds. “[N]early every online news site and blog includes an RSS feed to enable readers to subscribe to the content without needing to constantly visit the site. At the very least a social media newsroom must contain an RSS feed for all its content,” (Bruce, p.107)
There is more to it than just brevity, it is the beginning of a change towards the social aspect of public relations. “SMRs are much more than bulleted text and links to multimedia content in social networks. It’s much more than simply sharing information. And, it’s definitely much more than providing building blocks in a “B.S.” free format. SMRs are a starting point for the socialization of news.” (Solis, 2007).
Do you agree with Foremski that the press release is no longer relevant or do you think there will always be a place for them in PR? Do you think Social Media Releases will replace press releases over time?
Bruce, S. (2012). Share This: The Social Media Handbook For PR Professionals. United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.