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Is the Traditional B2B Press Release 'Dead'?
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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In an article earlier this week on prdaily.com (and included in LinkedIn’s “Today” weekly email newsletter), Shel Holtz mentioned learning about a public relations service company (Vocus) acquiring an email marketing firm (iContact). He noted, “Not too long ago, I would have read about [the acquisition] in the business section of my daily newspaper, in my weekly edition of PR Week, or in my RSS feeds. The business section of my daily newspaper has shrunk to the point that there’s no room for such reporting in the print edition. Increasingly, we’re seeing pay walls blocking online content from all but paying subscribers. As more people turn to the Web for their news, pay walls mean that fewer people in a company’s target audience will see the articles media relations professionals worked so hard to get placed.”

Hmm...good points. According to Holtz and others, the rise of paywalls for news media may be a way for struggling print media to offset declines in revenues.

Holtz continues, a little further in the column, “Getting the right people to see your organization’s content once meant getting the article placed in the right media. With eyes turning to the Web and trust shifting to trusted individuals, content marketing is no longer optional for any organization that hopes to gets its messages out and its story told.

“Content marketing is the practice of creating and deploying digital content (such as a PRWeb press release) so your most important audiences will see them, talk about them, and pass them along to others.

“Companies like Vocus can’t send out a news release and call it a day... They need to make sure the release finds its way into the hands of the company’s external ambassadors, the ones who want to share it (and reward them for sharing based on the intrinsic motivators that drive that kind of behavior). They need to get video interviews onto YouTube, a white paper discussing scenarios about how email marketing could support a PR campaign.”

Well, I would agree on one thing: How to deploy B2B press releases has certainly changed with the rise of social media, and particularly with sites like Twitter. But, has the business sections of daily or weekly news media become irrelevant? Here is where I disagree with Holtz. This might show my age, but I recall clearly when personal computers began becoming popular. People were forecasting the death of paper and championing paper-free offices. Even though email, interactive PDF forms, and the like have improved efficiency and streamlined operations, the personal computing device has not killed off paper. While news media is clearly struggling to adapt to the changed landscape of publishing (print, Internet, Web 2.0, social media), the press release as traditionally understood is far from dead. Only the ways to send it have changed; there will always be a place for business reporting, in whatever media form it takes (print, internet, paywall news media, social media, etc.).

Business PR, like every other human activity, has to adapt to new methods or times or it, like the typewriter and other obsolescent technology, will become extinct.

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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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