THINKPIECE: Is the press release dead? Nine times out of 10, an individual pitch wins hands down

Those of us who make our living by being dependent on the media’s attention to our clients, learned long ago the value of the press release - practically nothing. Press releases are a waste of the client’s time, the reporter’s time and good paper.

Those of us who make our living by being dependent on the media’s attention to our clients, learned long ago the value of the press release - practically nothing. Press releases are a waste of the client’s time, the reporter’s time and good paper.

Those of us who make our living by being dependent on the media’s

attention to our clients, learned long ago the value of the press

release - practically nothing. Press releases are a waste of the

client’s time, the reporter’s time and good paper.



A survey done by a media relations publication two years ago showed that

more than 90% of press releases sent out - costing clients more than

half a billion dollars a year - went unused. Given the proliferation of

start-up companies hiring PR firms these days, I would assume this

figure of gross waste on the client’s part is now nearing the

billion-dollar mark. And this is for a product that falls woefully short

of producing anything of substance for their clients. Coupled with the

equally useless, but oh-so-profitable, slickly produced four-color

’press kits,’ this figure probably doubles. Additionally, it

demonstrates a tremendous disregard for the media machine it purports to

serve.



’It’s actually an insult the number of releases I get by fax and mail

that concern things outside my beat,’ says Vincent Schodolski, LA bureau

chief for the Chicago Tribune. ’What particularly gets me are the number

of environmental groups sending reams of releases that waste all those

trees.’



There are a minor percentage of press releases that serve a real and

necessary function. Public companies complying with SEC and legal

requirements of timely disclosure is a good example. And personnel

releases that promote internal morale can also be valuable. But not one

of these has anything to do with the media running a story.



The fact is that the vast majority of releases are pure fluff and

self-serving corporate breast-beating, designed to please the client and

not the media. Why then, is the client surprised that the only pickup it

sees is over the paid wire services and not on the published page?



A well-targeted pitch written by an individual with newsroom experience

can and will achieve successful results. The difference is being

media-driven, not client-driven. PR pros should work within the rules of

the media, instead of trying to make the media adapt to their needs.



The ability to place good solid stories within the media is a dying

art.



Traditional PR firms have found far more lucrative ways to make money -

they can charge far more for abstract services such as ’strategic

counseling’ instead of for something as tangible as getting their

clients ink - one story at a time. But the last time we checked, even

after all the strategic counseling, clients still want good press -

positive stories done in a length and depth that give substance and

credibility over ’fluff.’



- See The Trouble with Press Releases, p14.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.