The end of the news release? I think not!

I was reading an article online from the Business Journal in Portland, Ore., in which public relations executive Ashley Brown from Coca-Cola is quoted as saying, “If there is one thing I want to do at Coke it’s to kill the press release.”

The article explains that through Brown’s efforts, Coca-Cola has jumped headfirst into so-called “brand journalism,” launching the online magazine Coca-Cola Journey and the company’s first corporate news blog, Coca-Cola Unbottled.

Brown’s goal, according to the article, is to “reduce the number of Coke press releases by half this year and eliminate them entirely by 2015.”

The author of the article, Alex Dalenberg, says that as a reporter, he welcomes “the timely, relevant press release.” But then Dalenberg adds, “I’m not sure either the flacks or the journalists would complain if the old-fashioned release went the way of the horse and buggy. Its days are probably numbered anyway, especially as more brands follow in the footsteps of Coca-Cola, Red Bull and other brands turned publishers.”

I know the freedom and excitement that comes from being able to reach out to your target audiences directly through social media. But I think we’re going way, way, way overboard to then say that we will one day totally abandon the traditional news release. I believe there is definitely room in this world for both forms of communication. And here are two great reasons:

1) There is still a huge amount of people living in this world who receive their news from their local newspaper. As I look, for instance, in the state where I live, it’s composed mostly of small to mid-size towns. And so many of those towns still have a community paper that covers local news. Mind you, those newspapers all now have web sites, but they continue to publish, distribute and sell hard copy papers. And if you want to reach the people who read those papers, a great way to do that is to … write a news release!

2) There is one thing you miss out on when you self-publish through social media: third party endorsement. It’s impossible to believe everything you read, see or hear through social media because anyone can claim anything on the web. Having an article published by a bona fide news organization (radio, tv, newspaper, magazine) means it has (hopefully) been vetted for accuracy by at least one editor and contains information you can trust. You don’t have that same level of trust when you bypass the news media and push your own information directly to your audiences.

So that’s why I feel that both Brown and Dalenberg are off base here. I appreciate their futuristic thinking, but I’m pretty sure the news release is not quite yet at death’s door.

If you want to read the article I’m referring to, you can find it online at:

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One response to “The end of the news release? I think not!”

  1. Sarah Tonigan Avatar
    Sarah Tonigan

    Nice post! I especially like your point about third-party endorsements being key to credibility. Also, interesting to know about Coke’s media strategy. Wonder if other big companies are doing the same??

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