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Is the press release dead? Should we still be writing and releasing them to announce company news?

Ad Age recently posted a column on the life of a press release and shortly after in the same week multiple responses were issued. So is it really dead or does it need to evolve and adapt to the digital world we’re continuing to move into? If it is dead, what replaces it — blogs? Press releases are how public relations professionals announce their client’s news to the media and are an easy way for companies to post the information on their website to gain additional awareness, both internally and externally.

In today’s online world, search engine optimization (SEO) is now an additional major design component when writing a press release. Where it comes up in searches is equally as important now as the meat of the news within the content. Keywords need to be added into releases but still be news oriented and not flashy. It’s important to have links within the release to direct readers to your website and to drive where you turn up within a search. Every day new articles and blog posts come out discussing the role of SEO and the press release, which is more evidence that the press release is far from dead.

The problem with press releases in today’s world is that many of them are fluff. The purpose of a release is to give your audience the who, what, when, where, why and how information in a short, concise manner. Companies posting releases in their newsrooms need to keep in mind that potential customers need to be able to read a release fast and retain key points. Reporters should be able to look at a release and not only have the headline peak their interest but also learn in the first paragraph what the press release is about. As an intern for the Boulder Daily Camera, I remember turning to press releases when needing either a quote or additional information for the article I was writing. Today, in the digital world, press releases are even more important for reporters who are now competing with real-time updates through social networks and bloggers who can whip out their interpretation of the news in a rapid manner. In addition, reporters are getting information and updates from social network and citizen journalists.

I read a blog post a while ago on how to create a newsroom within a company’s website. It was a great read that shows that the press release is still a major component of effective PR campaigns. When companies send out newsletters via print or through email, the press releases are named and linked within to drive traffic to their website.

Press releases are still a source people turn to for information and a contact’s name to learn more and schedule a follow up interview. However, it is important to note that traditional press releases are now being called social media releases. It’s essential to have links throughout the release but also important to not overdue it. Keywords are important and should add to the SEO results the client desires. Utilize the tools out there and see what your audience is using in search terms and implement those words into the release.

Working with a full-service marketing communications firm will ensure your company is getting the most out of its press releases. The overall look of the website design and it’s newsroom affect how long a person stays. The press release content determines if it’s read and where you turn up in search is what, overall, leads readers to your news. And let’s not forget the importance of developing and coding the website. All together, along with targeted outreach to the right reporters, bloggers and influencers, you can be sure that the outside and inside world will know what your company is doing.

The press release is alive and here to stay until reporters stop asking for it and companies stop turning to us PR pros to turn out quality content. Likewise, when companies change up the newsroom and find another way to explain their news it might go away. But for now, it is important to write a newsworthy release with the web and social media outlets in mind.

I just wanted to say thanks again for all of your quick help with the website. The conference (our deadline) was a big success.

B.W., Pixia Corp.

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