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The battle over news releases continues: Part Deux

By Mikela Dennison, Senior Account Exec at The Clarity Business

Earlier in the year, we did a post on the so-called death of the press release - which has traditionally been a mainstay of communications and the interaction with media.

In recent weeks (and months, and years) there has been renewed debate about the usefulness of the release, with some pundits saying it's had its day.

Coca Cola: News release-free by 2015

The head of digital communications and social media for Coca Cola, Ashley Brown, has announced plans for the soft drink giant to be completely press release-free by 2015 and has plans in the works to reduce its use of the release by half this year alone. Instead content will be posted on Coke's own website, drawing in audiences and providing them with timely, interesting information and commentary.

Startups move away from traditional channels

Progressive companies are increasingly realising the value of hosting compelling, news-driven content on their own sites, creating a hub of information and stories made available for both media and consumer. This is particularly true for tech startups who are moving away from the traditional communications methods and embracing the capacity of social media and influencer engagement to raise their profile (and capital).

In a prime example of the move away from the formal release in some quarters, Twitter made its recent announcement that it would float on the US Stock Exchange in a tweet rather than a formal release - a post that was retweeted almost 15,000 times, and favourited by almost 3,500 users. Later on, Twitter announced its IPO price with a tweet and a Tweet Pic, which was retweeted more than 7,700 times. Would that same reach have been achieved through a news release? It's certainly worth thinking about.

Another post on HubSpot talks about the fact that journalists receive hundreds if not thousands of releases each week, with many (if not all!) sent straight to the trash. Surely there's a better way to get your message across?

Tell stories, add value

The editor of GE's external blog GE Reports, Tomas Kellner, is a great believer that the release is on its way out: "The ultimate goal is to retire the press release. It's a great holder for facts, but you'd never want to read one. We want to tell stories."

Storytelling is certainly the way forward, and we've worked with several clients in recent months to create original, compelling, editorial-style content, which has appeared in company blogs, newsletters, corporate magazines, and they've all been well received. We'll continue to help clients tell their stories in a variety of forms (yes, even via the news release), so the real opportunity - and challenge - is in finding the most effective, authentic and engaging way to tell those stories and communicate key messages.

While there are many arguments for and against the decline or the continued use of the release (check out this great post about the death of the press release being 'grossly exaggerated'), I think it will continue to morph in the coming years, rather than disappearing completely. So rather than continuing to navel gaze, here's of some of my predictions about what form the humble release could take in the future:

The future of the release:

  • Multi-media releases will be the norm (as early as 2011, claims were made that releases containing text, images and video were viewed and shared up to 77% more than plain text releases)
  • Company blogs will become the go-to for information, imagery and video content
  • Infographic style press releases will become increasingly popular (people love pictures)
  • Corporate announcements will be made in real time via social media channels like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google +
  • Releases and announcements will focus on adding value through data, commentary and industry insight - less 'sell' and more 'share'
Your views

Journalists; how do you like to receive information from companies? Business leaders; how do you think your communications could change in the future? PR and communications people; what is your most common form of sharing client information with the media - and does it depend on the client?

We help clients to tell their stories and add value across a range of channels, and in a variety of ways. If you want to shape your message and communicate your story, get in touch withmikela@theclaritybusiness, george@theclaritybusiness or tweet us your thoughts via@ShapeTheMessage.