The press release is wriggling pt I

It’s still in use. It will not die. What must we do to kill it? It’s crawling from the grave wriggling, clinging to life in the information bog. It’s alive. It’s alive…

Why won’t the press release die? More precisely, why can’t we stop writing about its imminent death? See New PR Wiki Hot Issues: Press Releases to trace the origins of the discussion back to 2005. For the current flare up see Tom Foremski’s incendiary post Die! Press release! Die! Die! Die! (Feb. 2006), with all the subsequent responses on the uselessness/usefulness of the traditional press release. Foremski, a former Financial Times journalist, mad as hell, issued an enlightened call to arms that kicked this discussion into high gear:

“Press releases are created by committees, edited by lawyers, and then sent out at great expense through Businesswire or PRnewswire to reach the digital and physical trash bins of tens of thousands of journalists. This madness has to end. It is wasted time and effort by hundreds of thousands of professionals.”

The IDEA is to strip out all of the bullshit and hype from traditional mechanical, and useless press releases and rebuild it as a focused compilation of relevant facts, links, media and a subscription feed to help readers write, tell, and share a story their way (without having to sort through a sea of crap to find out what’s real, what’s canned, and what’s important.) This is what a good release should be anyway, regardless of trends and titles. Basically it’s the press release redux. It takes out what’s wrong with press releases and modernizes them into a usable format for journalists, bloggers, and individuals. – Brian Solis

May, 2006 Todd Defren of SHIFT Communications unveiled the Social Media Press Release as a response to Foremski’s seminal DIE PRESS RELEASE post (Foremski is now writing a book on the death of the press release). Thousands of copies of the SHIFT social media press release template were downloaded in the first 60 days of posting - the concept generated a lot of buzz in PR blogs. And – how’s this for PR? - the news was picked up by BusinessWeek. See SHIFT page for a measure of the intense dialogue that continues nearly every day around the death of the press release. Clearly, if it has not yet been demonstrated that we have come up with a successor to the press release, PR pros love talking about it.

So, if the press release is dead, what do we replace it with? In a series of very helpful interviews and analyis of the social media press release, (Aug. 2006), a site devoted to healthcare marketing, started asking the right questions.  They invited SHIFT, PRWeb, and PR Newswire (MultiVu) to discuss their social media services and how they are bieng used.

PRWeb direct-to-consumer offering includes RSS, SEO. They are the best option, they say because “Our exclusive EyeCasterâ„¢ technology is an important part of our Online Visibility Engineâ„¢, delivering your headlines to 2,000+ Web sites and blogs.”

Samples of MultiVu’s Multimedia News Release (MNR)  - logos, photos, audio/video, and links. Elements are used to assemble a dynamic HTML platform, with all information regarding a news story in one place. 

Early last month Edelman Worldwide began offering StoryCrafter, a web based tool for publishing social media news releases. It features:

  • Core facts
  • Quotes
  • Multi-media
  • Links
  • RSS feeds
  • Resources – Post to Digg this story
  • Technorati tags
  • Boilerplate
  • Contact
  • Trackback and comments

It’s the “comments’ feature that PR firms, and their clients, will find most daunting. Every piece of news now goes through a consumer-generated cycle of additional commentary that stretches the story to regions you may not want to go, offering a perspective you may not want to hear.

Tracked on Wednesday, December 06, 2006 at 7:39:33 AM
Dutch Perspective :: Public Relations + Cultural Affairs
Edelman just introduced another version of Todd Defren’s original Web 2.0 news release, or social media release, and a tool to create one. It’s not very new or innovative and aesthetically it can be much improved. Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that…

From a theoretical standpoint, the social media press release makes a lot of sense. From a practical standpoint, how do clients who are steeped in tradition and hampered by regulatory and legal constraints begin to use and benefit from the new social media tools – the subject of part II, coming soon. 

Resource: Google Group: “New Media Release”


  1. Todd Defren says:

    I look forward to Part 2!

    I think one mistake clients make when considering an SMR is that it is NOT ALL THAT DIFFERENT from what they are used to, in terms of the actual content. The SMR (as its been discussed) is more about a different presentation-layer (Webified) and also about enabling conversations to happen on-and-around each release.

  2. Mark Rose says:

    That’s good to hear, Todd. Can you point us to any case studies in which mature, established companies made the leap to incorporate social media into their communications mix – some of the benefits and challenges?

  3. Todd Defren says:

    Will work on that!

  4. David Weiner, PR Newswire says:

    Many of the largest companies (even Healthcare!) have been doing them for years with the aforementioned MNR… though if you told some of them it was a social media press release, ironically, maybe they would have thought twice!

  5. Mark Rose says:

    Dave – Looks great. How is it working with your new “technorati button.” Do clients like that? Find it useful? How do you migrate a reluctant client (let’s say a public company) ever so gently into the social media world without freaking them out? What are prudent baby steps? – especially when you have compliance/legal all that to worry about?

  6. Journalists love to tell us that the traditional press release is dead. That’s because they don’t understand that these days, smart people write keyword-rich press releases primarily for consumers who can find them online.

    Some of my readers do this regularly. Consumers find the press releases, click through to a website and either buy something or opt in to a special report or a free ebook. Some of them eventually turn into buyers.

    I know of companies that have had great success writing and distributing online press releases the correct way. And they aren’t bothered at all by the fact that journalists don’t think their releases are worthy of their time and attention.

    The sad truth is that a miniscule percentage of all the releases out there are written correctly. I get more questions on this topic than on anything else about media relations. So I created a free email tutorial called “89 Ways to Write Poiwerful Press Releases.” It mentions the social media press release as an option.

  7. Mark Rose says:

    Joan: Can you give an example of keyword rich press release that garnered a lot of attention from consumers?

  8. David Weiner, PR Newswire says:

    The agencies that I work with in NYC love it – that’s the initial feedback I have gotten. And that it provides a clear and definite point of origin for conversation and enables easy tracking and ROI.

  9. Here’s an example of a press release that has gotten great response for the client, yet not one journalist has written about it.

    The link is for Lesson #66 in my free tutorial “89 Ways to Write Powerful Press Releases.” You can opt into the course by scrolling to the bottom of the page.

  10. Mark Rose says:


    I checked it out. Seems obvious and rather brilliant. Direct-to-consumer news generation via the Internet. SEO at its most basic.

  11. Ed Cunning says:

    Great post!

  12. Reema Sarin says:

    Congratulations on a very practical PR Format – very hard hitting and to the point. It certainly takes the redundancy out of the traditional Press Release format. Infact, here in India, journalists are increasingly shying away from Press releases, which have become mere reference points to write ‘that great story with quotes and additional facts and figures in an interesting format.

  13. Press releases written with mainstream media in mind have been on the ropes for years, but with niche media appearing in droves — especially online — press releases are finding new audiences. The readers who tune in to these niche publications are more loyal and more apt to read & convert than general publication readers, anyway. The press release isn’t dying — it’s evolving.


  1. [...] Whitley at PRX Builder also continues to help PR jump into SMRsEducation PRMark Rose, PR Blog NewsdigTrends Chris Heuer on why it’s called Social Media – Social Media ClubPR [...]

Speak Your Mind