Public relations professionals design media blitzes to seduce journalists and newsmen to write and report about a client’s product or story. The weapon of choice has always been the press release. Originally, press releases were tightly written teasers focused on presenting cold hard facts so that media officials could then follow up and write a news piece with journalistic flair. However, in the last decade, the Internet has changed the face of public relations and the theory of news publishing as a whole. With the advent of web-based PR distributors like PRWeb, Marketwire, and Vocus, prospective clients and consumers are able to read press releases directly. Not only does this remove media professionals from the equation, it changes the way a press release should be written.
Back when a press release was, well, just a press release, there were certain criteria involved. For one, the only people who actually read the press release were a handful of reporters and editors. When this happened, it was requisite that the client had significant news for a press release to be written. Often, quotes from customers, analysts, and experts were par for the course in order to bring relevance to the story. And, finally, a press release’s success was only measurable when and if media picked it up and actually wrote an article based on it. This is far from the case in today’s Internet-rich culture.
In the age of Web 3.0, marketing professionals are using a new strategy when it comes to the press release. Throwing out the PR rules of the past, PR professionals are now writing web-savvy, client-targeted pseudo-articles that pass for what a press release used to be. It’s pretty much as if the web has allowed companies to publish their own articles directly, without having to bait journalists and other media officials. As such, bare-bones press release writing has been replaced with client-targeted language. SEO keyword rich articles, RSS, and blogging are now as influential as the old school who, what, when, where, and whys of PR writing.
When actually writing today’s press releases, marketing pros are using new strategies. For instance, they don’t just generate press releases when a client has “big news.” Instead, marketing teams are coming up with constant content all the time, regardless of magnitude. Press releases are hitting the wire about everything from product features to new customer wins, from white papers to CEO public speaking engagements. Also, the content tends to be keyword-rich and website-linkable so as to broaden its search engine proliferation. And finally, press releases are now written with the sales pitch already imbedded instead of being a medium that will perhaps, eventually, lead to a sale. In this new web-based PR, immediacy is king.
The Internet has made life more immediate for everybody. Most of our daily informational needs are derived from Internet searches. Businesses no longer have to strive to generate traffic. The traffic is already there, in vast numbers. The key is to walk out into the middle of traffic and get hits, and web-savvy press releases are the crosswalks.