The Death of the Press Release

After reading “Die! Press Release! Die! Die! Die!” I was very confused as to what was going on in 2006 to cause Tom Foremski to write the article in the first place. He was very upset at the state of press releases at the time and offered his suggestions on how to reform them, some of which are common practices now when a press release is written correctly. His other suggestions, however, are fueled by what I can only describe as laziness. To quote from his post,

“Here is my proposal: …

-Provide a brief description of what the announcement is, but leave the spin to the journalists. The journalists are going to go with their own spin on the story anyway, so why bother? Keep it straightforward rather than spintastic.”

(This I agree with mainly because this is how they are supposed to be written.)

“-Provide a page of quotes from the CEO or other C-level execs.

-Provide a page of quotes from customers, if applicable.

-Provide a page of quotes from analysts, if applicable.

-Provide financial information in many different formats.

-Provide many links inside the press release copy, and also provide a whole page of relevant links to other news stories or reference sources. And tag everything so that I can pre-assemble my stories.

When I read that all I heard was, “All I want to do is add a spin to the story. You go out and get 5+ pages of lists of information, quotes, facts, links, etc. and then arrange them in a way so that I can effortlessly tab through them and copy and paste what I like into a document and add a ‘spin.’” I’m sorry, but that doesn’t work for me. As a public relations professional it is my job to tell you what you need to know. And in its current state, a press release is a page (maybe two) of pertinent information, facts, and quotes of things a journalist needs to know. If you want more information than what’s in the press release, that’s on you, Tom. You are a journalist after all.

On a less cynical note, I don’t know what press releases were like in 2006, but I do know that even today there are some outrageously awful examples. Based on the article, press releases have come a long way in regards to how they are (supposed to be) written. And with the growth of the Social Media News Release, I can only imagine that Mr. Foremski is much happier now than he was in 2006.

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