Does the expression “survival of the fittest” ring a bell? It is a phrase originating with evolutionary theory and natural selection.
Survival of the fittest is also an apt description of today’s marketing landscape. You remember MySpace, right? Marketing methods and tactics come and go. So the big question on the publicity front is where is the press release in its lifecycle?
Before I reveal what MY findings show, lets just acknowledge that this is one VERY popular question. In fact, a search on Google reveals 220,000,000 listings, which includes some variations of that keyword phrase.
So, can you see how we got here? Because with everything exploding on the social media front, the relevancy of the venerable press release has rightly been called into question. And from some marketing and publicity heavyweights, no less.
Here’s a quick :30 video that will help frame our discussion…
Did you watch it? Wondering about the “New PR?” I’ll get to that in just a bit.
WARNING: my take on “are press release dead?” will surprise some and irritate others. Why? I am not a PR purist. From tests with over 2400+ press releases, I can tell you that like anything else, things have evolved. How so? Let’s dive in…
The majorityof today’s press releases DESERVE to DIE
Enter the irritation…I have seen a declining return on the “announcement-style” press release. Sure if you are a big company and can pump tons of money into distributing your boring, “it’s all about me” message, then you really don’t care one way or another.
But for the rest of us, we’re looking for ANY edge we can find. And doing an announcement-type press release cuts us off at the knees.
You see, it’s a mindshare game. We have WAY too much competing for our attention. And honestly, there is certain arrogance about announcement press releases. Why should I care when all you do is talk about yourself and/or your company?
What’s more, with the fragmentation of media, we as news consumers have far more control than ever before on what lands on our desktops and on our media channels.
Sure, there was a time when they worked. A time where there was far fewer marketing channels and vehicles. That time is long gone. So you need to adapt. But to what exactly?
What about online press releases?Don’t they provide “instant visibility, SEO-style?”
First, it’s bone-picking time with all these online press release “Johnny come lately’s” that have popped out of the woodwork. FULL DISCLOSURE: I have been doing online press releases since 2004. And what worked then, or even what worked a year ago, doesn’t work now.
Now it’s MY turn to be irritated. I see marketing folks selling, in good conscience, information products that advocate press release tactics that were squashed by Google with their Panda and Penguin search engine algorithm updates. In fact, I suggested 5 tips to make your press release “Penguin friendly” in a previous article.
So online press releases aren’t dead. But they are evolving. And while they aren’t dead, those previous techniques are no longer nearly as effective. In short, Google penalized web sites that were “over optimized.” And the same holds for online press releases.
For example, in the early days, I recommended putting our primary keyword phrase in the release 7 times. Then, as the search engines got more adept at indexing and ranking press releases, I reduced my recommendation to 5 keyword mentions. Today, your best bet is THIS formula: once in the headline, and a couple times in the body copy.
What do I do NOW?Enter the New PR…
First, press releases should be part of any businesses marketing and promotion program. If, and it’s a BIG IF, they are done the right way.
And the right way includes all phases of the press release process:
- The story
- Writing the release
- Visual assets accompanying the release (like images and video) as well as
- Metrics and press release performance tracking.
BONUS: I’ve prepared a FREE email series that reveals BOTH the pitfalls and opportunities with press releases in today’s social media environment. Click here to access Are Press Releases Dead email insider series.
Please share YOUR take on this topic. How have press releases worked for you? Have you questioned their effectiveness like so many others?
Your feedback is welcome by adding your insightful comment below.