The New Press Release?

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While some may want the “press release is dead” meme to end, the discussion could wind up producing some worthwhile ideas.

Tom Foremski had one that I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around. “Deconstruct the press release into special sections,” he suggested, “and tag the information so that as a publisher, I can pre-assemble some of the news story and make the information useful.” His suggestions for sections included a description, C-level quotes, customer quotes, analyst quotes and financial information. “Provide many links inside the press release copy, and also provide a whole page of relevant links to other news stories or reference sources,” Foremski suggested, adding, “And tag everything so that I can pre-assemble my stories.”

Nifty idea, I thought, but getting consistency everyone to adopt a standard will never happen. Anyway, the problem with the press release has nothing to do with form; it’s a question of substance. While reporters will bitch and moan about press releases in general, they will appreciate and use one that contains real news and is well written.

So I didn’t give Foremski’s idea much thought until I saw it implemented. SHIFT Communications’ Todd Defren took a crack at Foremski’s notion, using a month-old press release as a model. Foremski called it a a good example and a great step in the right direction-“Just these simple things already made the news release a lot more useful.”

And I agree. Add to that the interactivity companies like PR Newswire and PRWeb are building into press releases (del.icio.us tags, trackback URLs, etc.), and we may really be onto something here.

So I’m in no hurry for the meme to die. I’d rather it continue and produce more results like these.

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Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology which focuses on helping organizations apply online communication capabilities to their strategic organizational communications.

As a professional communicator, Shel also writes the blog a shel of my former self.

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