WWPR’s September 30th brown bag event, sponsored by Beekeeper Group, answered an intriguing question on the minds of many DC-area communication professionals – is the press release dead? The simple answer, no.

Shana Glickfield, Beekeeper Group partner and event moderator, asked a panel of industry experts to describe the viability of the tool in today’s 24-hour news cycle, if social media has replaced it, if it has advantages that newer alternatives don’t offer, and other questions related to the relevancy of the PR staple. With input from a highly interactive audience, the panel concluded that the press release is still an essential resource for journalists, stakeholders and communicators today.

Danny Selnick, Sr. Vice President Strategic Markets at Business Wire, noted that according to a recent Business Wire survey, “almost 90 percent of journalists said that they had referenced a release in the previous week, with 62 percent having used one in the last 24 hours.”

Timothy Homan, Finance Editor at The Morning Consult, called it “the easiest way to obtain authoritative information,” particularly with on-the-record quotes from organization officials. Homan remarked that it’s much harder to gauge authenticity via Twitter handles.

Pallavi Kumar, Assistant Professor & Division Director SOC at American University, took a different approach, mentioning that the press release isn’t just for journalists. Consumers, investors, analysts, partners all look at releases on company websites, and even internal staff reference them for planning purposes.

Many of the panelists agreed that the press release shouldn’t be the only means of communicating your message – it should be used with other tools like social media content. They, as well as a few members of the audience, spent a good portion of the event emphasizing tips of the trade when using these various devices.

Some of the tips included the following:

  • Send exclusive/embargoed content via email, social media, or releases
  • Address a reporter by their preferred name to show familiarity (i.e., Dan NOT Danny)
  • Include a strong news hook in releases and make sure to have it at the top
  • Keep a press release to one page and use AP style
  • Research the right reporters and outlets to pitch your release, call the planning/news desk and use media databases like Vocus to help with this research
  • Customize your pitch to certain reporters/outlets
  • Be accessible, have your spokesperson ready to answer any reporter inquiries 24 hours after the release is sent

Finally, one of the main reasons the press release is alive is because it can be viewed as a media kit.  The panelists noted that the press release is one way, unlike social media, where the reporter can see everything together. They overwhelmingly want multimedia like pictures, graphics, infographics and videos, and the press release is one of best places to put this information.

To learn more about how reporters view press releases, click here.