What does the future hold for press releases?
Perhaps more often than anything else, I am asked about press releases and their continued role and relevancy as communications vehicles. “Has social media made traditional media irrelevant?” “Can the process of distributing a press release simply be replaced with a tweet?” “Have companies abandoned releases as a means to share their news with stakeholders?” My answer to all of these questions is quite simply, “No.”
With three decades of experience in connecting newsmakers to news consumers, Marketwire has a great deal of insight into information distribution and content sharing – communication is our business. To say that the press release has changed over those 30 years is an understatement, and much of the functionality that seems so obvious in 2011 was unimaginable just ten years ago: direct feeds into newsroom editorial systems around the world, releases containing hyperlinks, embedded multimedia and optimized content, and the ability for readers to immediately share content they “like” with thousands of personal connections. And while it’s far easier to see where the press release has been than it is to predict where it is going, there are three undeniable truths that will see the press release not only survive – but thrive – for years to come:
Truth #1: Audiences will continue to play an important role in shaping how news and information is published and shared.
Press releases have evolved not only as a result of advances in technology, but also in response to the needs, demands and behaviors of both newsmakers and news consumers. Today’s news consumers are everywhere — Google, Facebook, Twitter, numerous web portals and company websites, and more — and they are demanding content be available to them in the format of their choice, and often in real-time. Press releases continue to provide timely, direct-from-source news to media and financial recipients worldwide, and when they are indexed by online search, the same releases shared with editors and journalists are being found and read by the public. Press release content is blogged about and posted to Facebook, and headlines are tweeted and re-tweeted. Companies that provide news consumers and customers with up-to-date content in their online media rooms are providing news consumers and customers with a reliable source for information, insight and education about their products and services. Knowing where your audience gathers and how they want to engage with your content will dictate how you create, publish and share your information.
These are all developments and directions that Marketwire is actively involved in, and we work with our clients to help them leverage all channels. Frankly, we are agnostic as to which channel is chosen. The simple fact is that we encourage our clients to choose what make sense for their particular audiences. We view it as our role to ensure we make it easy to access all those channels as effectively and productively as possible.
Truth #2: Enhancements to the content and structure of the press release will continue to evolve.
It’s difficult to remember a time when the world wasn’t online and the news we shared was on text-only pages transmitted to media, investors and other recipients. The digitizing and socializing of press releases has liberated content, allowing us to create and share richer, fuller and more interactive stories. A simple scan through the Marketwire News Room demonstrates the myriad of ways communicators use press releases to engage their audiences: YouTube video, embedded product manuals, financial tables, executive interviews, and so much more, all of it immediately viewable, downloadable and sharable. And as communicators grow savvier with creating content that is search-friendly and optimized for online audiences, press releases play a pivotal role in a company’s ability to directly and indirectly leverage connections with other credible online sources. Integrating press releases into today’s SEO strategies is key to a company’s lead generation and branding objectives.
It’s important to remember that at its core, a press release is about telling a story — the opening of a new hotel, the launch of a new medical technology, the discovery of an iron ore deposit — and as the structure of the press release continues to allow for enhanced content, it will continue its evolution from a communications ‘tool’ to an interactive platform for content-sharing and audience engagement. I like to view a press release as a distributed marketing landing page. It is powerful and interactive content that can be distributed to and shared with thousands of relevant recipients to help a company build relationships with its audiences and achieve its business goals .
Truth #3: Consumer demand for relevant, customizable and portable content will continue to increase.
The ability to send, share and receive information across countless personal channels and social networks invariably leads to increasing difficulty in managing the volume and flow of that information. With greater frequency, we are able to customize not only the amount of content that comes to us, but also the kind of content we receive. Press releases will continue to meet those demands, enabled by RSS functionality, social media sharing and tagging, and mobile-friendly content. They’ll also serve to direct consumers to other relevant content destinations, be they a company’s website, marketing campaign microsite, blog, or other places where end-users can customize their experience and seek out the information that is most relevant to them. The evolution of “more like this” and “related news” functionality within press releases will allow readers to further personalize their experiences and interact with curated content that resonates with them.
There is no doubt that the future of the press release will be dictated by a mix of what consumers want and what technology makes possible. Our role will be as it has always been: to stay on the leading edge of what is possible so that we not only provide what our clients expect today, but anticipate what they will want tomorrow.
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