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August 23, 2010
Press Releases Are Morphing, Not Dying
 
People keep trying to kill off press releases. Stuart Bruce on A PR Guy's Musings accused Mashable of doing that this week. He overreached there but contributed some timely insights into how news releases are evolving. 

A good press release is supposed to be written tightly, with the essential information in the lead, all to respect a reporter's time and interest pressures. Social media outlets, Bruce argues, are assuring they are written that way. However, the body of supporting information still needs to be available for anyone seeking to expand on the lead -- whether it's in social in or traditional format.

Truly, press releases have an indispensable function -- getting the word out on new developments, products, or policies. Unless we're going to quit communicating entirely and fold up all forms of media -- and that's not in any cards we've shuffled lately -- press releases will remain primary tools of announcement and information exchange.

But they may well be in different formats like, say, on Twitter. 

"Successful pitches," Bruce writes, "have always been succinct. When I started in public relations, that meant if you were faxing a news release with all the background information the journalist needed then the cover sheet would have the compelling pitch. You’d also have a 20-second verbal pitch prepared for phone calls. The only difference today is that your succinct pitch might be delivered by email or even Twitter with a link to the full news release (please never an attachment) on the web."

"A link to the full news release" is the key, and the saving factor in the longevity of press releases. Somebody, somewhere, will always want to know more and he or she will need to be accommodated. So, PR folks, let's not fear that change is sweeping us that far from our moorings. Let's just write press releases tightly and well. There's plenty of room for improvement.  

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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