Got Something Better Than a Press Release?

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The press release might be extinct in the eyes of some hipster PR pros. But it remains a trusted and useful tool among a number of experienced journalists and successful PR professionals (including yours truly) who recognize the value of the oft-maligned press release as a key communications vehicle when used appropriately and as part of an integrated communications plan.

This is not a “the press release is dead…long live the press release” blog post. It’s a post that encourages PR pros to use communications tools that provides useful information to journalists — information that allows them to do their job as effectively and efficiently as possible — even if they think there’s a stigma associated with using a particular tool. So if you’re a PR hipster who thinks communicating client information to a journalist via press release makes you a square, then it’s time to think again.

Take it from Dean Takahashi, a 25-year tech writer veteran and now lead writer for GamesBeat at VentureBeat (and former writer for the San Jose Mercury News, Red Herring and the WSJ).

“I detect a trend where PR firms are no longer bothering to write press releases. That’s hip with the times,” Dean wrote in a post on his Facebook page.  “But I find they’re writing blog posts instead. Or sending over slide decks. Or arranging Webex briefings. And sending white papers. This is not an improvement because it doesn’t get me the most important information quickly. I may be old fashioned, but I find that having a press release in hand, as well as material from an interview, leads to a more accurate story that also focuses on the news. Blog posts are often breezy and conversational, and very light on the facts. Maybe a fact sheet would be just as useful. But the absence of both a fact sheet and a press release leads me to ask many unnecessary questions over email, and that’s plain frustrating. So don’t kill the old press release yet, unless you’ve got something better.”

Among many other important responsibilities, one of the jobs a PR professional has it to make it easy for journalists to do business with their clients.  Forcing a journalist to repeatedly go back to a PR rep with questions that should have been answered early on is a waste of everyone’s time. And as Mr. Takahashi says, is “plain frustrating.” Frustrating a journalist who’s working hard to put together a comprehensive article about your client’s product or service is not a recipe for success.  Especially when that journalist is of the Dean Takahashi variety (and there are many out there) who has to develop as many as a half-dozen different articles in a single day (perhaps not the norm but he reports that it happens from time-to-time).

Visit Mr. Takahashi’s Facebook page and scroll down to May 31 to check out his post and some of the comments from experienced PR pros and journalists, including this succinct comment from technology journalist Don Clark, who wrote for the WSJ for 23 years: “I agree, Dean.”

 

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