PR = Press Release?

Tuesday, 26 July 2011, 10:43 | Category : General
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For all the talk of the commercial opportunity presented to the PR industry by the rise of digital (addressed to some extent in this previous post), the associated downside has also become more evident to me in recent months. The reduced cost for developing and distributing content online has encouraged expectations in some quarters that mass exposure can be achieved for, if not pennies, then certainly tens of pounds.

There exists the perception that all a business needs to do is pay a consultant to draft a press release and then simply bang it out over email and newswires. Hey presto! Blanket coverage for a few hours’ work, right? This is a conversation I find myself often having with prospects and also reading on various social networks.

I appreciate that there may be something to be gained from an SEO perspective in having content out there with the brand and the right keywords. That, however, is generally not what’s wanted – the desire is for the release to be covered in a business’s top target press, whatever that may be.

Press releases can be useful, and achieve such results, in rare instances – for instance, when a huge brand has genuinely significant news to announce to a number of audiences or for news which might impact on a stock market price. I suspect however that the vast majority of releases are utterly redundant, produced to appease people who don’t really understand how PR works – that it is about relationships, providing context and long-term engagement and not something that can be accomplished in a matter of hours.

Which all makes me wonder – for an industry which prides itself on its skills in reputation management, how did we allow the perception to take hold that PR stands for press release?


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