In the 12 years I have been practicing PR/communications, I have invariably depended on press releases of one sort or another to get my clients’ news to end-customers. However, each year, I am finding them less and less effective.
What appears to be happening is fewer B2B trade publications are in a rush to print news items. Due to a loss of advertisers, they no longer have the page count to publish press releases in print. And some B2B websites that were once eager to post “the latest industry news” are now updating their sites sporadically at best.
One likely reason online updates have slowed is that many editors have simply tired of receiving so many press releases. According to PR Newswire, a national press release service, the volume of press releases the company sends out has grown significantly in the past four years. This means editors are being bombarded with news stories more than ever, and according to one Newsweek reporter, it has caused him to spend “less than a second” looking at the 50 or more he receives each morning before “zapping them” with the delete button.
Many larger companies are also having second thoughts about sending out press releases, mainly because they are also finding them less and less effective. Coca-Cola is phasing them out this year and will end them entirely in 2015. Many tech companies that once were “press release happy,” and could not send enough of them out, have stopped them entirely. Two examples of this trend are Twitter, which has never sent out one press release, and Tumblr, which reports sending out only a few.
All right, if press releases are dead – or dying – what are the options? Here are three to consider:
- The first option, which I have expressed before, is that each company must now become its own publisher. One of the best ways to get your press release online is to post it on your own website in HTML format and make sure it is search engine optimized.
- Related to this, many manufacturers now have blogs on their websites. Some companies are announcing their news on their blogs, ensuring it also has been optimized for search engines and is in a search-engine-friendly format.
- Finally, some companies weave their news into an article to be published in print and online publications. We can never undervalue the power and credibility that is possible with a well-crafted article in a major trade publication, mentioning your news along with the virtues of your products or services.
So here’s the situation: Press releases are losing their pickup and effectiveness; advertising is costly and some advertisers say “the bang for the buck” seems to be diminishing; but content in the form of words, videos, images, and so on, remains strong and is actually getting stronger. If you are planning your 2015 marketing strategy now, this is likely something you want to think about.
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