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I am looking to get struck down by a lighting bolt from the public relations gods, but as a recovering PR account executive, I believe press releases are dead. Find out the five reasons in this post.
1. Press releases are outbound, not inbound.
I could have a really short blog post here and just say press releases are dead because they aren’t inbound, but that would be cheating. At 9 Clouds, we eat, sleep and drink inbound marketing. We wrote a whole blog post on the difference between inbound and outbound marketing, which you can read here, but the short version is that outbound interrupts and inbound attracts.
Press releases interrupt. If you are using a press release service, it is spamming the inboxes of whoever was lucky enough to get on its distribution list whenever the release is ready to send. The receiver isn’t looking for the content and may have absolutely no interest in the topic. That’s outbound marketing at its finest. At 9 Clouds, we avoid outbound tactics at all costs.
2. Press releases don’t teach, they sell.
At 9 Clouds, we believe the best way to sell is to teach. Press releases are all about selling the product, service or company they are focused on. They’re not about sharing insight or expertise; they’re all about broadcasting what something is or will do. You could argue that they “teach” the reader about the product or service, but that isn’t something anyone wants to learn in that way.
If someone is trying to solve a problem, they want to look for insight on how to solve it and then look for the products or services they may need to achieve that. Teach first. Become a resource, and when a lead is in buying mode, they’ll remember the knowledge you provided and look to your product or service. None of this process requires a press release.
3. Press releases are self-serving and disingenuous.
When writing content, you should always start with your buyer persona. If the content you are thinking about developing won’t help or teach that persona, you should reconsider its development.
A press release is never written for a persona; it's written because the company developing it wants it written. It’s a backwards and disingenuous way to plan and deliver content.
4. Press releases are overly formal.
In the world of social media, formal language is losing its necessity – for better or worse. By the time a press release is finalized for distribution, it is usually full of big words people wouldn’t use in conversation and marketing speak, neither of which a reader is overly eager to ingest or understand.
In most cases, speaking to your reader as they would want to be spoken to is the rule of thumb, and in most cases, the format of press releases doesn’t fit that bill.
5. Your leads don’t read press releases.
Although it's last on my list, it’s probably the most important. Your prospects and leads aren’t reading press releases. People don’t consume content in press release form.
You could argue that people read news, and in a world where journalism is dying, press releases are often copied verbatim as news articles. Again, people will be able to see through the guise of a headline. At the end of the day, the content wasn’t written with their interest in mind, so they’ll read the lead and move on.
Spend your time more wisely
You’re on the right track by creating content when you are writing a press release, but you could be spending that time more wisely.
Use the time you would spend writing and managing the review of a press release to write a really great blog post or two about key trends in your industry that led you to develop the product or service you would write the press release about. Teach someone something. Then spend that money you would spend on PR Newswire to target your audience with Facebook ads. You’ll get a more targeted and engaged reach.
There aren’t any clouds in the sky today, but I’m still going to watch my back. The PR gods aren’t going to appreciate this post, but I hope you did.
Need help developing content for your company? Check out our inbound marketing services here.