The press release is dead: long live digital PR

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The press release is dead: long live digital PR

If ever there was a sign that the press release is truly and finally dead, surely it must be that the Government of Canada’s announced that it’s retiring the traditional format.

Gone forever are those dense blocks of text, overly long headlines and all that complex jargon. Instead, Canadian government communicators are using a more digital-friendly format that’s shorter, snappier and is designed for use in social channels. These new missives will be kept to two or three paragraphs of short, succinct text highlighting key messages, facts and resources.

76design, part of the Thornley Fallis Group, had a hand in developing Canada’s first-ever social media news release almost seven years ago, so this ‘new’ approach is long overdue. Why? Because, according to Google, up to 90 per cent of all media consumption is now screen based and continuing to use a format designed for paper and ink just doesn’t make sense.

The government takes its lead from Coke, probably the world’s most recognized brand. In November on its relaunched blog, Unbottled, the company announced that for consumers, ‘the corporate website is dead and “press release PR” is on its way out’. According to the blog post:

“We’re a communications team that’s as comfortable with data sets as editorial calendars, and we’re using a year of Coke Journey data to make our communications plans smarter.”

For Coke and the rest of us, being smarter means totally rethinking PR. It means moving away from announcements and ‘key’ messages and media tours and email-blast pitches.  Instead, digital PR goes back to the core talents and skills of the profession: crafting compelling stories and building strong relationships.

Instead of a wordy press release, digital PR pros use engaging formats to tell a story. Video, infographics, tweets, pins and snaps are all combined to paint a picture, one brushstroke at a time.

In digital PR, practitioners are no longer overly-focused on chasing journalists (although solid media relationships remain essential). Online influencers now take centre stage. That means building positive associations with those bloggers, tweeters and Facebookers who have large or loyal followings and who participate in engaged online communities.  A recent study shows that most recognized influencers are bloggers (86 per cent) and that  81 per cent of the online population trusts the information and advice they get from bloggers.

Successful digital PR takes the skills of a journalist, the attitude of a publisher, the expertise of a data analyst, the eye of a graphic designer and the Internet savviness of an IT pro.  It’s a tall order, and very few communicators have it all.

Click here to get the Thornley Fallis team of digital PR professionals on your team.

 

Sherrilynne Starkie

Sherrilynne Starkie Bio:

Thornley Fallis Communications' Vice-President, Content Marketing & Social Media.