An article published this week by Advertising Age entitled ‘RIP, the Press Release – Long Live the Tweet’ has unsurprisingly been causing quite a stir online, with the majority of commentators disagreeing with the author.
It’s interesting to see why. Dumenco argues that news sources which may have once relied on press releases for celebrity news now take this straight from the horse’s (140 character) mouth on Twitter. Whilst this is certainly the case with some stories in some publications, it doesn’t quite sign the death warrant of the press release. We have actually seen the opposite happen – Tiger Woods’s press conference in February was to a very exclusive audience of close friends precisely to ensure that news and rumours would not leak out though Twitter.
Twitter may work well for celebrities reaching out to their fan base, but for corporations with a quality message (or regulatory announcements) it does not suffice. According to Cision’s recent journalism study, content is extensively shared through social media platforms (which 75% of journalists also do themselves), content which often, however, links back to an original press release.
Whilst it is evident that journalists are using social media for research purposes, contacts, wires and PRs are still the top three sources for fact checking, with social media languishing at the bottom of the table, as a ‘less reliable’ source. In fact, almost 70% of journalists use press releases and PRs as often as they did three years ago, suggesting that the tweet is far from being the new king.
Source: Cision 2010 Social Journalism Study; Base: 543 Journalists
So where does this leave us? Twitter is yet another channel in a PR’s arsenal to get a message out, but as yet it has not fundamentally changed how companies report news. As ever, targeting of key influencers through the correct medium remains a PR’s challenge. For celebrities, Twitter may be the best channel for this, and sometimes tweets may re-appear ‘verbatim’ as stories. More often than not though, stories appear verbatim as the result of a press release…