Yesterday’s news that the SEC has approved the use of company web sites for the distribution of information in compliance with Reg FD has been met with joy among proponents of the social media newsroom and social media press release, but I think some of this jubilance is misplaced and self-serving.
If you’re not familiar with Reg FD (Regulation Full Disclosure), it’s the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulation governing full and fair disclosure of financial information for publicly held companies. Reg FD governs things like reporting methods, frequency, quiet periods, etc., and publicly traded companies must manage communications carefully to avoid running afoul of the SEC.
The SEC, and chairman Christopher Cox, are to be applauded for bringing the agency into the 21st century so boldly. Cox even recorded a video and referred to “Atom” and RSS!
But going back to my original point, I’m not sure why it is so important to sound the death knell for the press release. I hate to break it to you folks, but company news posted on a company blog IS a press release that happens to be published on Web 2.0 infrastructure. Maybe it also went out on the wire and maybe it didn’t. It’s not important.
I’m sure there was plenty of dancing in the streets when press releases started to go out by Telex instead of surface mail, and then by fax, and then by e-mail…But the excitement (and I use the term loosely) generated by the prospect of the death of the press release over the course of YEARS is a manufactured excitement and is as tedious as the ersatz suspense in an episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
What HAS been dead, forever, is lobbing untargeted press releases randomly at bloggers and journalists and hoping they stick. We should not confuse blogger/media relations with random, unfocused pitching.
On the other hand, the press release certainly continues to evolve, and unless you’re trying to impress a handful of very vocal bloggers, continues to be highly relevant. An October 2007 study* by Bulldog and TekGroup International surveyed over 2000 traditional journalists and found that far and way, “receiving press releases by e-mail” was the most popular means of learning about company news, with 78% of respondents preferring it above other methods.
And while TechCrunch links to Cox’s speech on the announcement, many of the posts I have read link to the SEC press release.
Let’s here and now declare declarations of the death of the press release dead. It’s been done. To death.
* Free registration required. The study was conducted on Survey Monkey, and is a little unclear in how the participants were selected, but the results are still worth factoring when deciding whether to dump the press release from your media strategy