Is the press release dead to the TV news industry?
Mention Meter proves PR plays a critical role for broadcasters
By: Dave Armon, President, Critical Mention
With Kim Jong-il gone, that leaves an opening in the Axis of Evil. Based on sheer vitriol, we’re guessing the next member of this triad of baddies will be the press release.
Tom Foremski used a graphic showing a bloody dagger and a tombstone under the headline “Die! Press release! Die! Die! Die!” back in 2006 to propose that communications professionals deconstruct news releases and begin using Web 2.0 tricks in their trade. Now tagging, embedding multimedia and linking to backup data is the norm.
At the same time PR practitioners have been learning the art of storytelling, the media landscape has changed radically. Barriers to entry have fallen and even the nichiest bloggers have found audiences for their “news” — ranging from super technical insights appealing only to a few dozen diehard readers to celebrity gossip retweeted by thousands within seconds of publication. Mainstream media has fragmented and slimmed down their cost bases — from smaller editorial teams to pooled resources across entire publishing or broadcasting groups.
Ironically, the result is an increased dependence on story ideas, graphics, b-roll, expert sources and events offered up by PR professionals. Despite all the rhetoric about the press release being dead, social media being the bomb, and news organizations doing only original reporting, data from Critical Mention shows mainstream media relied on handouts and official corporate statements more in 2011 than the prior year.
Our study of U.S. broadcasters found 115,000 mentions of “in a statement…” or “… issued a statement” or “press release” in 2011. In 2010, those same terms were mentioned 113,000 times.
The press release remains the whipping boy for everything that’s wrong with PR: spam, mistargeted pitches, poor prep for interviews and excessive use of jargon. While those misdeeds are far less severe than the behavior of the oppressive leaders in North Korea, Iran and Iraq over the years, the press release proudly shares one attribute with them — generating news coverage!