Today’s Press Release: Different World, Same Rules

Having led numerous thought leadership and media relations campaigns, not to mention serving as the “Chief Press Release Writer” at ComBlu for more years than I care to share, I thought it appropriate to pass along a MarketingProfs article my colleague Cheryl shared with me that questions the value of the good ole press release in today’s marketing mix.

The article by Rebecca Joyner, titled “With Little SEO Value Left in Them, Are Press Releases Still Worthwhile?,” raised this issue in response to Google’s recent move to label the optimized links in press releases as “link schemes,” which means that the anchor text in press releases no longer helps with SEO.

I loved Joyner’s article and her support of this mainstay of any thought leadership program, saying “Legitimate news announcements still serve as tools for market education, and they still contribute to online discoverability via social networks and other channels.” She goes on to explain that despite the changes in our industry, “a newsworthy, succinct press release that’s free of clichés and buzzwords can help you deliver news to target audiences and lead them to additional information via Google-sanctioned hyperlinks.”

I couldn’t agree more and truly believe there will always be a place in marketing for the press release. Over the course of my career, however, it has never ceased to amaze me how many business people—and in some cases marketing folks—don’t really understand what a press release is and how it should be used. ComBlu has forever educated its clients as to the role it plays as one part of a broader influencer marketing or content strategy. The same basic rules still apply today, despite huge shifts in the way we communicate.

True thought leadership effectively leverages earned media to amplify a company’s content, stories, expertise and overall point of view. It works best when a company wants to assume a leadership role in a specific industry or on a specific topic, impact the consumer’s decision journey, create a new industry category or change business thought or philosophy.

The press release is a supporting cast member in the ever-evolving PR toolbox that today includes more graphic venues than ever before, including videos, infographics, eBooks, Pinterest boards, among others. The channels used to spread news have also expanded beyond reporters and editors at publications to include blogs, social media channels, email newsletters, etc.

Referring back to a Lumenatti post I published earlier this year on the differences in thought leadership and content marketing, it is very important to point out again that thought leadership is not a “once-in-a-row” activity. Once the content is in place and a point of view is developed, a company has to continually leverage its body of work to bubble up new ideas to sustain dialogue and foster ongoing conversation. Press releases that share legitimate news is one part of that whole.

Joyner concludes her post by stating “The press release of yesteryear (and yesterday) is not dead, but it is different. Now a portal to a potentially deep supply of engaging and real-time content, the modern news announcement will no doubt continue to evolve as other communications tools change and mature.”

I’ve joked for many years that I’ll speak only in press release terms when I’m old and delusional. Given the veracity of the tool, that may indeed be the case. How has your PR mix changed as a result of the new communication economy? I’d love to hear.

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