Press releases a tool of last resort?

Reading an interview with Verizon, the USA telecom company, had me pondering over the future of the press release as a communications medium.

To quote the article, “Our major business units are using traditional news releases as a tool of last resort.  In its place are blogs, videos, podcasts, social media and proactive storytelling…”

So are the trusty press release’s days really that numbered?

The answer to the question ultimately depends on what particular sector of business you’re working in – how customers are expecting to receive their news and how key media channels are evolving as a result.

I continue to write press releases for a number of B2B sectors where the following remain a very common occurrence:

. Editors request press releases ‘from the last few months’ that are directly relevant to a forthcoming editorial feature in their printed publication.

. Product releases as much as 9 months old are published in an editorial feature, because they fit the feature perfectly and were filed away for that purpose.

.  Many well-visited industry portals uniquely sort and display the vast numbers of press releases issued daily by industry players big and small.

.  Trade exhibitions continue to provide press offices that present exhibitor press packs that are in the main still crammed full of press releases…

.  Companies issue e-newsletters and maintain websites that still very much rely on a continuous press release program as a prime source of content.

Against such a backdrop, press releases remain a positive lifeblood, and a sector’s habits will need to evolve dramatically before the role of the press release is made completely obsolete.

There’s perhaps also a small matter of historic trust to take into account too.  I sense that a press release is still recognised by many as the only official communiqué, that trustworthy gospel that can (if written correctly) be reliably published as provided.  Perhaps still less so the corporate blog or social media output?

I’ve no doubt that certain B2C sectors in particular will wean themselves off the press release habit in favour of a more social media fix, other sectors though will remain more dependent, at least for a while yet…

Remember the halcyon days of vinyl records?  How they had to co-exist with CDs for so long?  Both formats had/have their consumers and devotees.  Even in the face of downloads, vinyl sales are now increasing.  Hip and cool once more.  Personally I’ve never stopped listening to my old vinyl  – and as long as clients demand a good sounding press release I’ll keep on writing them 😉