Why Do We Love to Pronounce Things Dead?

I enjoy staying up to date on communications industry news by reading my favorite blogs, but I’ve been noticing an unfortunate trend that doesn’t seem to be going away. Our industry’s thought leaders love to declare things dead.

You’ve surely seen this.

Thought leader A writes: “Email is Dead”

Thought leader B retorts: “Is Email Dead?”

And we’re off to the races, with everyone trying to figure out if email is dead or alive or somewhere in between. I admit, I read these blogs, because I want to know if I should be sending emails anymore. I mean, if email is truly dead, then why bother?  

Given the volume of emails hitting my inbox and SPAM folder everyday, as well as the number of mass emails I send on behalf of my company, I can say with certainty that email is alive and well. Reports of its death are indeed greatly exaggerated.

So then, what else is “dead?” Press releases.

The Press Release is Dead” – February 2018

But wait just a minute. “Is the Press Release Dead?” – March 2018

No, apparently it was a false alarm. “Press Releases Aren’t Dead” – April 2018

I’m glad we’ve got that cleared up. In fairness, the death of the press release has been debated for decades. This is nothing new, but the reasons for its death have changed over time. The latest cause is technology. (It’s always technology.)

So, what do we make of all this? Should we still be writing press releases?

Well, yes….sometimes. But the days of a PR person firing off a press release and watching the news articles roll in? They are long gone. Here are a few tips I’ve gathered during my years in public relations:

  1. If you write a press release, have something genuinely newsworthy. Think about your “news” and why anyone outside your company should even care. If you can’t come up with a reason, don’t expect a reporter to do it for you.
  2. Know your reporters. Have a real relationship with as many writers or editors from as many publications as possible. Get to know them before you want them to cover your news. Find out what they need from you and what kind of stories interest them. If you have met face-to-face and they feel a human connection, your chances of having your news covered will improve greatly.
  3. Remember that reporters generally despise press releases. If you develop a reputation for boring, self-serving, non-newsworthy press releases, you may be ignored when you truly have some major news to report.
  4. Consider an alternative to a press release: The pitch. While a press release gives detailed information and quotes, a pitch is more of a teaser, attempting to garner interest in your story idea. Both can be effective, so consider which is appropriate for your news. Don’t rely too heavily on the same tactic.

So no, I don’t think press releases are dead. They remain a useful tool even if their importance has diminished. And email is still not dead. It remains a tremendous tool for many marketers and can deliver a massive ROI for companies who have cultivated strong email lists.

What is actually dead, other than the typewriter and the VCR? How about this: “Pronouncing Things to Be Dead is Dead.”

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