I promised myself I wouldn’t get involved in the “Press Release Must DIE” meme, but I have failed.
For the last several years, numerous people have tried to ring the bell that tolls for Ivy Lee’s centenarian brainchild. Some want to pull the plug on a comatose patient, some want to pump new media adrenaline into the corpus communicado. Some still want to debate and argue whether the thing is breathing, and how much is enough to call it alive.
Others wonder if the thing ever really worked as well as everyone thought.
Mark Evans wrote a piece at Ragan.com which calls into question the viability of Ivy Lee’s “grandchild,” the Social Media News Release. An SMNR can take many forms, but at its heart is the willingness to link away to additional resources which provide more multimedia functionality, and at the same time tip the journalist to other discussions and articles about the same subject. “Has the Social Media Press Release Withered on the Vine” might disappear behind the RaganSelect paywall soon, so I excerpt a couple of pieces here:
For whatever reason, the social media press release has little traction. Sure, they are still around but it’s not like companies are demanding they be created. Most of my clients don’t ask for them, and I don’t suggest them, because the effort required to create one doesn’t seem worth it. Most reporters and bloggers don’t bother reading press releases – regardless of whether they’re a social media or “old” version.
The Wrong Debate
Within the comments, those with vested interest in the adoption and expansion of the Social Media News Release are debating the real use statistics and the viability, but I believe they are all missing a key point. There’s nothing wrong with the format – it’s the target that’s changed.
In a five-year period, the downward slope of media employment has become a dangerous grade. Those jobs lost at newspapers, magazines and television newsrooms are simply not coming back. Companies that track their hits are noticing it too, because the media hits are declining. Fewer reporters means fewer stories covered, period.
Nobody anticipated that sharp a decline, and it renders that tactic anemic at best. Why crank out story parts, when you can go ahead and assemble them yourself?
Now, Evans does make a good point later, but it’s not one that is original:
I would argue that relationships and pitches are far more important than social media press releases, and, as a result, this is what PR practitioners and companies should focus on. When you’re reaching out to a reporter or blogger, it’s the two or three introductory paragraphs in an e-mail that play a crucial role in whether they will be intrigued or hit the delete button.
However, he’s still stuck on the mode of getting attention.
Make Your Own News
In the future, you won’t be getting a reporter’s attention through sending an email. Ideally, you won’t have to go that route, because you will have established a relationship and he will recognize your number when you call.
Failing that, the blind email isn’t going to cut it either. If you want a reporter’s attention, create content compelling enough to interest and entertain the journalist. Hook them with the stories you tell, in whatever multi-media format you need to get the point across. But don’t get stuck making parts, when there’s greater payoff in creating your own news.