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A brief history of the death of the press release

Posted by Ben Smith on 24th April 2017

Ok, I know, I know. Not another blog about the death of the press release.

Even if the press release isn’t dead, the debate about whether it is or not really ought to be right? Here at Wildfire labs we couldn’t agree more – providing some clarity and closure to questions like this is pretty much why we’re here.

The death of the press release certainly has some heritage. A search for “death of the press release” yields 2.9 million results on Google going back to articles written basically at the birth of the internet. It’s such a perennial ‘favourite’ that it’s even been described as an internet meme in its own right.

It has brought out passions on both sides of the debate, and from PRs and journalists alike (personal favourite headline – ‘Die! Press release! Die! Die! Die!’ – *whispers behind his hand* I think they’re a fan…).

There is no doubt that a growing number of PR professionals have questioned the value of the press release as a promotional tool in recent years. And then, infamously, in July 2016, Forbes declared the press release officially “dead”, claiming that they no longer add real value to a business’ marketing approach.

Despite the reams and reams of print and internet devoted to debating the issue, what is surprising, and perhaps revealing, is how little actual research has been done on the efficacy of press releases over the years.

So we thought we’d step in and put our crack team to work. We really do love a bit of empirical data, so we’ve been scouring our records, analysing the tangible results of releases, and putting together the evidence on whether there is life in the venerable old press release yet.

You can see the results of our experiment in our latest video. Perhaps it won’t put the debate to bed once and for all, but the results may surprise you, regardless of which side of the debate you fall on.

Photo credit.

Ben Smith

Ben’s deep knowledge of sectors as diverse as electronics and IT, cleantech and medtech means he has a wide range of experience to draw on for his clients – ensuring that no two campaigns are the same. Ben’s expertise lies in helping his clients to raise their profiles beyond trade media and he has a proven track record in running campaigns that deliver coverage in national, business and consumer publications.