A professor friend from the west coast last week lamented the fact his college stopped teaching press release writing, claiming such news conveyance is outdated and no longer relevant in the current digital age.
Such a decision couldn’t have been made by the boomers who most likely began their PR careers by writing press releases. In my case, lots of them.
Press releases are far from dead and academia should be placing even more emphasis on them since they play an important role in business communication.
Due to regulatory “fair disclosure” requirements for broad, same-time disclosure, press releases will remain a primary way to efficiently communicate financial information from public companies.
With staff cutbacks in most newsrooms, press releases also are a valuable tool for reporters who are increasingly required to churn out more news copy. Therefore, a well-written press release that succinctly presents facts and solid quotes will help overworked reporters tell your story.
Evidence of this fact came in a regional Southeastern Wisconsin newspaper last week thanks to a clear, concise press release from the governor’s office. Verbatim quotes from the press release were woven into the story about a boat manufacturer moving its operations from Michigan to Genoa City, WI. Social media could have triggered news coverage, but the depth of detail in the press release enabled the reporter to tell a larger economic story featuring quotable quotes from all parties involved.
During a crisis such as a product recall, press releases are efficient ways of communicating essential information the public needs to know. In these cases, social media picks up precise information, especially if linked to the press release or company website.
Final argument for teaching press release writing is the need for future PR pros to think like reporters—are you answering the 5Ws? -Ron Culp