Wick Communications

The end of the press release

In Public relations on 9 Oct 2014 at 2:13 pm

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This isn’t a novel thought – you’ve probably noticed it as well – but social media is replacing the press release. At the very least, it is changing what thoughtful pros like us do with, and expect from, the press release.

Say you are a newspaper reporter covering the South Dakota statehouse. You would be remiss if you weren’t following the governor’s official Twitter feed, along with those of his press secretary, the speaker of the house, etc. etc. Any reporter worth his salt in 2014 knows to look for his sources on Twitter. And that’s just one platform. I can’t imagine doing the job without keeping an eye on relevant Facebook pages, can you?

While all that information is a boon for reporters, it also means those with a story to tell can bypass us entirely, as Elon Musk did last week in sort-of announcing his Next Big Thing.

Musk is too smart to send out a press release announcing a new car. He realized the come-on would produce an echo in the mainstream media, the automotive press and among technologists everywhere. He could have sent out a hundred pressers. He did much more than that with one 140-character tease. …

The nation’s most prestigious newspaper, The New York Times, has taken note and come up with something I like a lot. It is a Twitterish feed of its own that is a collection of tweets, press releases, reporter notes and news from elsewhere that continues to scroll with each passing hour. It’s as if you are peering into the brain of the newsroom. NYT.com is calling it “Watching.” Go to the newspaper’s homepage and take a look.

This is exactly the sort of thing the newspaper never would have done in the glory days, when we didn’t give readers any kind of glimpse into what we were “watching” because we didn’t want to tip off the competition to the stories we might have in the next day’s newspaper. Obviously, that’s a ridiculous concept in 2014 and I think “Watching” gives readers a compelling reason to visit the site again and again.

These are interesting times at The New York Times, which recently announced it was cutting 100 newsroom jobs. It feels like only yesterday that it added a mobile app called “NYT Now” designed to compete with Circa mobile applications dedicated to giving you the news in brief formatted for your phone. Now it is jettisoning its standalone opinion app.

The takeaway is things are changing. It’s either exciting or terrifying. You decide.



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