Press Releases: A Thing of the Past?

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According to Time.com, the average human’s attention span is officially shorter than a goldfish’s. Some of you might have even lost interest in this post before completing that sentence. It is no question that keeping the attention of an individual in today’s society is challenging given the multitude of distractions that exist. With our attention spans switching from subject to subject, the world of advertising and public relations has been forced through a drastic makeover.

Forbes explains that the purposes of a press release include “addressing a specific issue, responding to a crisis, and/or providing specific information.” The first one to ever be published was released in 1906 after a tragedy in New Jersey left 50 people dead. It stuck to the world of public relations like glue. Press releases and PR went hand-in-hand as they released some of the most important information to journalists, reporters, station managers and other consumers.

As technology has changed throughout the years, however, this one-to-two-page synopsis became less demanding. Individuals had less and less time to devote to reading these articles. Instead of disseminating information to media-based clientele, news releases were reaching a wider range of audiences. Companies began updating their websites and social platforms to deliver the same, if not simplified, versions of their former press releases.

Today, companies and spokespeople are given platforms through multiple different channels. Personal websites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are only a few of the endless ways to get a message out. The invention of the hashtag in 2007 on top of other grouping mechanisms revolutionized the way people searched and connected with each other.

Various social media outlets.

The endless means of connecting causes a competition of who can hold the attention of the consumers the longest. That being said, it leads one to question whether or not the press release is still relevant? Are all of the interactive, flashy tactics taking away from written content?

Some would say yes, and others say that it has just simply transformed. Instead of being a one-to-two page summary of information, they have become quick tweets, two-minute Snapchat videos or Instagram stories. The information-seekers are still acquiring the same material, just by a different means. This use of shared media could risk the potential loss of credibility, so it is important for the messages to be clear and reflective of the company’s overall brand.

Regardless of the message you are trying to distribute, the same point of trying to capture as much attention is mutual. What used to be a witty headline in a press release is now a flashy interactive begging you to click on it. When creating a press release, it is important to be clear and concise, yet elaborate enough to make the average individual stop and think. A company must be smart in deciding how it wants to deliver its message and how they want it to be received by its public. This could mean approaching different topics in different ways.

The old fashioned press release might be changing, but in a field that is consistently dynamic, this is to be expected.

As Marian Salzman, contributor at Forbes stated, “Just about everything in the communications world has changed in the past few decades, years, hours.”

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