Does anybody worthwhile read product press releases?

After a 20 year shift, I’ve been away from editing trade publications for three years or so now. In that time, there have been continued huge changes in the way the market searches for and consumes information, so I’d imagine my old job is getting quite unrecognisable. A conversation recently with an editor I have a lot of time for put me straight on that one. Customers might be changing the way they get information, the publications with a future are making efforts to cope, but the top end of the “information supply chain” remains stuck in 1990. Most industrial and scientific companies’ sole concession to the past decade or more has been to start emailing out press releases instead of posting them.

Does anybody read press releases any more, other than corporate announcements aimed at the financial press? Nobody worthwhile. If you have a “press release” section on your website, take a look at the site traffic analytics and count all the zeroes. The fastest way you’re getting a sales message to your customers is through conventional sales material, probably disseminated through more channels than ever before. If you get any of the sort of trade magazine coverage which is actually read by anyone, it’ll have been by holding a press announcement or by communicating directly with the editors of the trade publications which still have an impact. A 50-word “new product” item in “New Widget Monthly” doesn’t count; it will have been seen by precisely one person: the intern asked to cut out all the “press coverage” and put it in a book. By all means spend time and effort on getting publicity in the press; if done right, it works. But don’t think that you’ll get any sales from just writing new product press releases, like you did in 1990, sending them out to a mailing list and saying “job done”. All that will get you is a succession of desperate salespeople on the phone asking you to subsidise their publisher’s next lunch by paying £100 for the privilege of an eighth of a page so-called “editorial” in something no customer will ever see.

Take a look at Stop doing PR. Start doing visibility on Chris Koch’s B2B Marketing Blog for more thoughts on what you could and should be doing.

Discussion

  1. John Fisher

    Hi Chris
    I am (almost) retired and don’t have the need or the energy to fight battles for the PR industry any more but I really don’t agree with you and even less with Chris Koch.
    The mechanics have changed and will continue to change but the need is greater than ever.
    Specialists within an organisation were always the best people to communicate the product messages, but they don’t have the time or the interest to do it effectively. This is where the PR people come in, to work with them and get the messages out.
    They have a responsibility to do that with all the tools at their disposal and with the main focus on those that work, so they should be using all the modern techniques.
    “Man bites dog” is always going to be an eye catching headline and so is “Stop doing PR. Start doing visibility” or “Does anybody worthwhile read product press releases?” and I admire you and Chris for keeping these debates going but if was still full time in the industry, I would be exposing you in Wikileaks :-0

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