Dec17

The Death of the Press Release?

veer imageDid all PR professionals feel a slight shudder of fear upon hearing that Ashley Brown, digital communications and social media lead for The Coca-Cola Company, has vowed to “kill the press release”? I did, but only for a moment. After all, Mr. Brown’s proclamation came during a presentation called “Brand journalism at Coca-Cola: Content, data, and cutting through noise,” where he was outlining the company’s content marketing strategy. Content marketing is the most exciting, and some would say revolutionary, marketing innovation in recent years. It puts the consumer, rather than the brand, at the centre of communications. Instead of pushing out brand messages, content marketers are creating videos, infographics and other pieces of engaging, sharable content that respond to consumer desires and needs, thus creating brand awareness and loyalty.

But why should this mean the death of the press release? In healthcare communications, press releases are a fundamental tool for communicating complex data about diseases and new treatments. Without press releases, reporters working on daily or hourly deadlines would find it nearly impossible to sift through and decipher the news from every clinical trial published in a peer-reviewed journal. A well-crafted press release can help a journalist understand how a p value translates into clinical value for a patient.

Instead of being replaced by content, should press releases be considered a medium for delivering content? Multimedia press releases containing video clips, visuals, infographics and animations are replacing the standard written-word-only release. In addition, with the proliferation of online medical news websites and portals, press releases are increasingly being published in full rather than being used as background information for a news item.

PR professionals can embrace this and ensure that press releases are optimised for search, by judicious use of keywords in headlines and the first paragraph. We can optimise for sharing by crafting “tweet ready” headlines. We can consider the press release a starting point for telling a rich and rounded story that is expressed through a variety of content.

Content marketing is a brave new world for pharma marketers and healthcare communications, and I look forward to taking clients on this journey. However we cannot leave the press release behind.  Long live the press release!

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