FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: A New Look at an Old Format

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Good article today by Jeff Mascott, Managing Director at Adfero Group. Interesting thoughts, though I think in the case of local markets–with short staffed local media pressed for good stories–the press release still has a lot of power.

…it is time to take a fresh look at press releases, in terms of both their format and the terminology used – the name “press release” is just one of several long-overdue updates.

This has been a hot topic lately in PR circles. Agencies and news distribution services have taken a stab at new formats, such as the “social media press release” (http://www.shiftcomm.com/Web20Releases/5232006.html) introduced last year by Boston’s Shift Communications as an open source attempt to address the issue.

Their approach favors bullet points and packaged quotes rather than a narrative, and plenty of built-in links, downloads and tags. It is great in that it gives a journalist everything he or she might need for a story in one place, but does not meet the needs of an editor who in today’s compressed news cycle might run a release word-for-word.

Next there is the news distribution service PR Web (www.prweb.com), recently purchased by media software company Vocus. It advocates a direct-to-consumer approach, emphasizing search engine optimization while providing multimedia files in an organized format.

It is a great service that has proven effective for some, yet we wonder if there is a better way to address the unique needs and goals of those in Washington.

Regardless, that these new approaches are being talked about at all is a positive step forward. It is time for everyone who issues press releases – especially those who issue LOTS of press releases – to stop going about business as usual with an outdated, static format, one that only made sense when the primary means of distribution was the U.S. Mail.

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