press releaseThe press release is not dead.

That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

Press releases are a staple of public relations and here at Cook + Schmid, we believe that as PR professionals we have a responsibility to cultivate open communications. But do press releases really encourage open dialogue anymore? In 2011, Forbes said no with an article entitled Why the News Release is Worthless in Today’s Social Media Age. Ouch!

As much as we hate to say it, there may be some validity to Forbes’ article. Social media has changed the landscape of public relations. Media are increasingly following pertinent Twitter handles to receive up-to-the-minute news updates on topics specific to their beats and costly newswires are challenged as PR pros progressively utilize free services such as HARO (Help a Reporter Out),, and Seek & Shout to pitch news stories.

If all of this holds true, why are PR professionals still utilizing press releases in their media relations efforts? Simply put – they still work.

According to Newswire’s vice president of social media Sarah Skerik, press release viewership increased 30 percent from 2009 to 2011 and people share thousands of press releases on their social networks daily. In fact, social media and other PR solicitation services have merely provided additional outlets for release distribution.

In response to the changing times, Cook + Schmid has devised three easy steps to optimizing press releases for the modern age.

1. Define the target audience for your press release. PR Daily reports that most press releases aren’t picked up because their audiences are not clearly defined and content is not reader-friendly. So when reviewing your release, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there jargon?
  • Is it easy to understand?
  • Is it boring?
  • Is the intended audience clear?

Remember, your release is intended for reporters, not your colleagues.

2. Be creative. This year’s influx (and rapid success) of services such as Pinterest and Instragram has demonstrated one clear message – visuals are key! Embedding images and videos into your release makes it both interactive and engaging. Further, provide content that sticks. Journalists want quality content just as much as you want to provide it, so get inventive with your approach. Has your donation drive grossed more proceeds than ever before? Did your product reach record highs this year? That’s the good stuff.

onlinePRmedia resized 6003. Promote your release on social media channels. Reporters are actively engaging with social media for news stories so why not publish your release exactly where they’re already looking? By embedding a link to your press release in a tweet or adding an attention-grabbing pin on Pinterest that links to your release, you will surely get your message across!

Key takeaways:

  • Define your audience
  • Embed links to your press release in social media posts
  • Create engaging, quality content
  • Insert visual elements to press releases (i.e. videos, photos, etc.)

When all else fails, always remember Skerik’s words, “
The medium is only as good as the message.”

Images via E-Releases &