Night of the living dead press release

Gini Dietrich admonishes PR professionals No One Cares About Your News Release, and goes on to advise against posting press releases (or links) to a company’s Facebook page. Posting links to press releases on a company’s Facebook page is not only acceptable, it’s desirable.

The irrelevance and death of the press release has been predicted/declared every six months for the last five years with mind-numbing regularity. Yet, even in hip, slick 2012, journalists say they get most of their company information from press releases. A survey this March by PR firm Text100 found that the press release is the highest rated source of company information among journalists, bar none, exceeding the value of Facebook pages, blog posts and every other communications vehicle in the survey. To discard the press release as a PR tool (and it is only one of many) just to prove you’re a social media cool kid (SMCK), is a mistake.

The press release serves as a company’s official statement of record on a topic. For earnings, for example, it provides the SEC-compliant financial results and company context for those results. For the journalist, or the smart media consumer, a press release is just a starting point, but a useful one nonetheless.

Dietrich writes, “by posting your news release on your blog or social networks, you’re making it about you.” Well I damn well hope so. Social media is participative communications and no one with any sense is saying the company can’t participate, can’t have a voice, or can’t join in the conversation.

I once heard Wired editor Chris Anderson say he encouraged Wired’s bloggers to link to and quote press releases, since they were often the most authoritative source of company information. He added that they were not the only source of information, and that with the advent of blogs, no story is ever “done,” with comments and new blog posts adding new details and commentary to what we know about a story.

So if there’s any universal piece of advice for effective social media public relations, it’s “There is no universal piece of advice for effective social media public relations.” Before outlawing what can be a very effective part of your ocmmunications mix, consider the same things you would consider for any communications tactic:

  1. Are your press releases relevant to the people who come to your Facebook page?
  2. Does posting them provide people with useful information about the company, its products and its services?
  3. Do you actively encourage spirited discussion among your customers, suppliers, business partners, etc.?
  4. Do you use other sources of content on your Facebook page?

If you answered yes to all or some of these, you’re fine. Go ahead and post those links to your Facebook page. You can participate in the conversation, too! You have my permission.