Abandon dated tools

Two of the PR industry's most identifiable conventions, the press conference and the press release, are not only anachronistically named, they are largely obsolete.

Two of the PR industry's most identifiable conventions, the press conference and the press release, are not only anachronistically named, they are largely obsolete.

The Internet generation believes that if the information is important enough, it will find them. They rely on online word-of-mouth as their media source, and links are their currency.

The connective tissue of the Internet—RSS, social networks, inbound blog links, embed codes, APIs—allows this word-of-mouth to travel quickly, and efficiently. If a message has to be disseminated, the inclination today is to simply publish it directly.

While press releases have greatly improved their natural search value, they are not designed for these behaviors. The format is too long, overly text-based, and too static. And while everyone privately pooh-poohs press releases, their use seemingly continues unabated.

Recently, Threadless (client) proved this point by issuing the first-ever Twitter press release, 140 characters long. Because they have more than 776,000 followers, they are able to activate word-of-mouth, as well as generate traffic from referring site links, far more effectively than a press release.

The press conference is becoming obsolete for two basic reasons. The media has become more distributed, fragmented. The news cycle has changed. The people that spread word-of-mouth often cannot or do not attend these events, and the news is invariably already being discussed by the time of the press conference.

Rachel Roy (client) proved this point through a one-hour Twitter press conference, which cost $1 (Dina on our team wanted a Poland Springs water), and effectively reached both top-down and bottom-up media.

It is time to change the tool set.

Curtis Hougland, founder, Attention

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