Aaron Perlut’s recent blog post, Why The News Release Is Worthless In Today’s Social Media Age, should ruffle a few feathers in the PR community.
He’s right to question the value of news releases. But he’s wrong to imply that all news releases are worthless. In fact, he concedes that a very few releases (earnings releases, for example) have some worth, calling them “a necessary evil.”
Perlut cites a glut of poorly written and self-serving news releases clogging up journalists’ inboxes day after day: “I receive at least 10 relatively illegible news releases daily (and many reporters tell me they get up to 300 each day).” Yikes. I can see why he’s not a fan. But the fact is illegible puff pieces have never been worthwhile or effective. Journalists have always ignored them. The social media age has nothing to do with it. If you churn out illegible and worthless blogs, tweets and Facebook posts, you’ll get the same results you would churning out worthless news releases.
So I agree with Perlut that lots of so-called news releases contain little news and even less value, and companies would be wise to invest their time and money elsewhere. But I don’t agree that news releases in general are utterly worthless, as the title of his post proclaims. And I certainly don’t believe that social media have made news releases obsolete.
One last thing. There’s a hidden gem in Perlut’s post — a sharp criticism but also an invaluable reminder for those of us in PR: “… there are just a few PR people left who still know how to proactively pitch — keep it concise, relevant and don’t make it all about your client, but a broader trend.”
Maybe if more of us took that advice, we could restore the news release’s tarnished reputation.