Did Canada Kill The Press Release?

The Government of Canada has stripped the press release right down to its skivvies—not because it wants to curb access to information, but because it understands the value of a digital-friendly format that integrates with social media channels.

Gone with the old-style release are dense blocks of text, long titles in headlines and leads, and the sort of complex, dehumanizing jargon that allows you to speak without saying anything at all. Instead, two or three short, crisp paragraphs now open to key messages, quotations and additional resources—all in a simple to scan, bullet-point format.

Critical here is the recognition—and from the Federal Government, no less—that people strapped for time will do what they like with your information, if you can get them to pay attention in the first place. So why not make it easy for them to share your story? Why resist new media, platforms and channels when that’s where your audiences are consuming their news?

Our kudos to the Fed for letting the Internet into its heart, but let’s not forget that people have been tinkering with the traditional press release for years (the Government of Ontario included). Here are a few notable examples:

  • The social media news release (SMNR), which organizes content so that it’s easily shared on various social media platforms by bringing key facts and voices to the front in digestible snippets
  • Adding multimedia content to increase the chances your pitch will be opened and read
  • News releases that target consumers directly, bypassing media altogether
  • SEO releases replete with keyword-rich copy and links designed to deliver customers to your landing page
  • Releases that offer free trial offers and direct links to services

PR people have joined the ranks of content producers. We’re taking our news directly to the consumer. We still pitch the old information gatekeepers, but we’re as happy building our own newsrooms thank you very much. Point is, the modern news release is a manifestation of our desire to do both.

As a great deluge of new media converges, the press release, like all other forms of communication, must evolve. The alternative is pretty grim indeed.