On its 110th birthday: Is It The End of the Press Release As We Know It?



The debate has been going on for many years now. And it will most probably continue for many years to come. Are press releases dead?

First of all, let’s explore the history of press releases and how they were created. Ivy Lee invented the concept of press releases back in 1906, when his agency was working with the Pennsylvania Railroad, and suffered a major accident that left 50 people dead. Lee knew that this accident will attract major media attention. So what did he do? Instead of waiting for the media to attack his client, he drafted a statement explaining the situation and distributed it to journalists. Thus, the press release was born, and has been used ever since.

Many people have been arguing lately that there is no room for press releases in the digital age we are currently living in. They consider press releases to be outdated and useless, as well as a waste of time, energy, and (editorial) space. They strongly believe in the power of social media and digital marketing; that the same message can be conveyed without the need to write that good ol’ press release.

The truth is, this issue is not either black or white. Press releases are and important PR tool that can be successful and reap rewards if understood and utilized correctly.

One major problem that is evident in this part of the world is that press releases are literally used and abused. Both agencies and in-house PR departments have turned into press release factories. Any event, any update, any announcement, any anything, press release is the go-to tactic. Why? Because it is the most basic tactic to do and basically a no-brainer, and if the PR department is in-house, then guess what? Drafting and issuing press releases is free!

Press releases are a pivotal part of PR that cannot be ignored or abandoned. Not now. Not any time soon. However, most of the time, it should be integrated into the whole PR strategy, plan, or campaign. We need to define the purpose and the goal of drafting and issuing the press release, determine the best date to issue it, decide on the target media outlets, tweak the press release depending on the media outlets (print, online, company’s social media accounts, local, regional, and international media), make sure it includes important key words (SEO purposes), and measure the results afterwards.

Therefore, we should give press releases the appreciation they truly deserve and instead of bashing them, we ought to celebrate their 110th birthday!




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