This is a question that gets asked almost every other month. Internationally, a lot of companies answer ‘yes’ to this question.
Many international brands have taken to Twitter to tweet their breaking news. A press release is still issued, particularly since the regulations of several countries demand this documentation, but no reporter waits for a press release to break news.
In India, however, the situation is quite different.
The press release is very much alive and kicking in India. What’s mostly dead is the hard copy of the press release.
While many Indian companies like Infosys, Flipkart etc do announce their news via Twitter or other social media platforms, the press release is largely relevant to various sections of the media.
There are two things that the relevancy of the press release is based on: the news beat and if it is event or non-event press release.
In an event, we typically think of the tech-savvy publications, the bloggers and news websites who scorn the press release and send out tweets live from a press conference.
But for every person who does that, there are two people who ask for a soft copy of the press release at an event, regardless of the beat.
Several reporters still prefer the press release in their inbox for two key reasons: a comprehensive set of facts and figures they can refer to easily, and they can take content from the release when they are short of time to file the story.
Non-Event Press Releases
This is where the ‘beat’ becomes important.
If you are in the lifestyle and fashion space, new product launches might require a press release. The format of the press release has evolved to include more media and videos – heading the SMPR way.
In India, however, many people follow the traditional ‘Press Release + Photographs’ format via email, primarily because many reporters are not comfortable with Dropbox links or do not want the hassle of navigating to another link to download images. If you are dealing with a smaller brand, you want to provide as much information to the reporter in the easiest manner, so many agencies stick to the traditional formats.
Bigger brands, however, have a separate ‘Media’ and Gallery section on their websites, or other portals wherein they can host elaborate SMPRs.
This is where the knowledge of the publication and reporter comes in handy! If you know what the reporter likes, and how tech-savvy they are, the chances of having your press release viewed increase accordingly.
NON-LIFESTYLE PRESS RELEASES
The press release in not quite dead here, though it is quieter than a few years ago.
We can say one thing for sure – the days of being written about just on the basis of a press release are gone. Your press release needs to have compelling news.
Most often, corporate releases, unless it is by a big brand, do not get picked up by the media. The content needs to be truly compelling, rather than just an FYI. And if it is a known brand, chances are that the news also broke to other channels.
However, there are smaller publications who still rely on the good ol’ release for their news. Now, they might not be entirely relevant to your client, but could be significant as well.
Vernacular media, in this evolving India, has grown quite important (more on that later!). Their reporters are tech savvy, but they still like their news in a press release – a cohesive piece with all information, authorized by the company.
An award announcement press release might not get written about by mainstream media unless it is associated with a big brand or a known personality.
A press release, however, continues to be the easiest way to inform the media about new happenings. It might not get carried in news, but the reporter in question does know about the news and you remain in their mind.
Then, there are publications who still have a ‘press release’ section who carry your entire release and link back to your website – cannot be discounted from an SEO perspective!
A brand needs to have regular press release updates, but if you are looking for your news to be covered, a press release might not be the best fit for all news.
So as tech-savvy and PR 2.0 we might want to get, we cannot really discard the press release entirely – yet.