Is the news release dead?

Posted by Gina Pappas on April 11, 2010 | Comments (2)

“I prefer to receive my news in 140 characters or less.”

My ears perked up when I heard this statement from a respected Omaha media professional. Really? Is it even possible to convey a client’s message in the length of a Tweet? In an industry like public relations, which is accustomed to using research and facts to back up the news, hearing this statement makes me wonder:

Is the news release dead?

Every day, the average journalist is stretched to the limit in terms of time and resources.

With that in mind, it’s unrealistic to assume that just sending a traditional news release to the local newspaper is going to result in a story. There simply isn’t time to read more than a page. According to PR Web, the optimal word count for a press release is 350 – about as long as this blog post.

The preferred touch point is a quick e-mail that gets to the heart of a good story and talks about why people should care. As PR professionals, we’re then forced to boil down all of the research, statistics, source data and hard work into one attention-grabbing nugget that compels the media to want to know more. Talk about pressure.

By reevaluating the processes that may have worked well in the past, we can modernize our methods to accommodate a journalist’s busy day. As Peter Shankman, CEO of the Geek Factory in NYC and founder of Help A Reporter Out (HARO) has simply said, “Brevity is key.”

That 150-word email you send to the reporter, which captures the most compelling element of your story idea, may take you longer to write than the old 750-word press release. But the results will be worth the effort.

So is the news release dead?

No, it still serves an important role; however, you need to look at the news release as support material for the story, not as the story itself. Show a reporter how they can develop your idea into a piece their audience will care about. By doing so, you can successfully adapt the traditional PR process into a method that fits today’s newsroom.




  • Claire Celsi says:

    The news release is not quite dead, but sending email to reporters with the news release attached is. Posting it on your Web site for search engine visibility is the new way. But you already know that!!! Love the blog, congratulations!

  • Holly Zinck says:

    This is true in all business. We must streamline our emails, projects and mission statements to provide only the essential facts. Determining exactly what those are takes years of practice. When working with executives as well as working with public relations the more palpable you are, the better your message is received. A trusted and reliable source of information need not always be verbose. In fact these days it seems that the better you are at condensing your message, the more respected you become.

    Thank you, Gina, for a well thought out and poignant post.

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