Thursday, July 21, 2011

How are press releases evolving?

The traditional press release has moved on as news publication platforms proliferate.

The traditional press release, usually accompanied by a 5" x 7" glossy print and mailed to the editorial desk is presumably no more. Maybe some traditional agencies continue to issue double spaced stories typed on client headed press release paper and avoiding paper clips that might scratch the glossy photo in transit and render it unsuitable to scan. The double spacing was to give space for the editor to scribble notes and changes on material selected for publication. There has been a gradual move away from postal delivery to e-mail often now to a news desk address rather than the editor. It was once quite a big deal developing a press release, researching the story which may have involved an onsite interview at a location where the client had installed product, all accompanied by a professional photographer - it all added up to a substantial fee and took some time before the client signed off on a final copy and the release was ready to go.

Today it is rare to visit a location for a story, interviews are more typically by email or telephone and everyone has a digital camera or phone to take some pictures and e-mail them across - mainly because clients don't want to pay much for it. But with the immediacy of the Internet and new publishing opportunities the demand for content is growing. Not from the printed trade press where editorial pages are shrinking and publication intervals extending due to the relatively high costs of putting together, printing and mailing a magazine, but from blogs, Twitter, Facebook and online news sites. When the trade journals were the only show in town getting stories published was vital, but now print media is just one route to reach customers and prospects. Indeed for many trade journals one that can be bought just the same as space for display and classified advertising.

Savvy companies are investing marketing pounds in not just news creation, but in publication and with that building readership and a following amongst their target audiences. But the news piece itself no longer needs to fit the old formula of say 150 to 200 words. It can be a headline piece published on Twitter which typically will include a short link to a more expansive story that might be on a blog. Or go to more detail on the company web site, or a White Paper that sets the whole scene. All this information provides valuable research material for prospective buyers who are now far better informed when they are ready to buy than ever before. It is not just text, but good use of photographs and videos are becoming more and more important influencers in that decision making process that leads to making a purchase.

The ability to editorially control the publishing platform allows the tone of voice to be more conversational and less formal than before and give a personality to brands previously mainly communicated by logos and icons.

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