Are We In The Age Of The Death Of Press Releases?

For decades press releases have been a staple in the public relations industry. After all before the advent of the internet and especially social media launched, public relations professionals needed journalists to spread the news about their newest widget or the launch of a fundraiser.  Journalists needed public relations professionals too.  Often times it is a public relations’ professionals’ ideas that fill the newspaper or are included in the next newscast.

Reach Your Audience apps icons on globe. Courtesy of PRNews.org

Reach Your Audience apps icons on globe. Courtesy of PRNews.org

Now some people question the need for press releases.  It’s a reasonable question to ponder. Every business and nonprofit has its own Facebook and Twitter accounts, not to mention a handful of other accounts. More than 70 percent of adults said their cell phones helped them stay better engaged with the world, according to an October 2014 Pew Research study.

Morgan Lyons, an assistant vice-president of communications and community engagement at the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority (DART), recently spoke to our graduate strategic public relations class.   During his guest lecture he informed us that DART used to send out press releases quite frequently and even had a newsroom page on its website accessible to reporters or members of the general public.

Yet, after pulling the newsroom portion of the website down his communications’ team has seen their overall engagement numbers steadily rise over the years. Lyons noted it is best to just use a small number of social media outlets in the most engaging way possible than to manage dozens of accounts, which could result in diminished returns. DART uses Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a RSS feed. Using these mediums allows DART to tell their own compelling stories, while also directly answering consumers’ concerns through a two-way dialogue.  People want to know corporations, organizations and government entities actually care and will respond to their questions or comments.

The ways a press release is delivered also is changing. Many times now a press release may not actually even be printed out. It zings across time and space digitally to magically appear in the recipient’s email box. Some proposed stories involve sending a quick two- to three-sentence pitch to a prospective media representative. In that instance a full-page press release is not even needed. Reporters appreciate pitches because they are shorter, while boiling directly down to the nuts and bolts of the topic.

Lyons pointed out DART still sends press releases out. The frequency has significantly diminished from the number sent several years ago.  He doesn’t believe press releases are dead. He just believes our communication style is ever evolving.

Just re-evaluate how you communicate. Keep it fresh and evolve.

Social media is no place for hot-heads

The Dallas Cowboys are struggling this season as several key players have become sidelined with devastating injuries. Fans are upset. They were hoping to see the big blue star head toward the 2016 Super Bowl.

When people are frustrated and upset they often lash out vengefully at the people they consider responsible.  It does not matter if it is truly the person being attacked is truly at fault.

Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Cole Beasley took the brunt of the backlash from people on Twitter after a fumbled punt lead to the New York Giants gaining control and ultimately a win of the Oct. 25 game in the remaining moments.

Beasley’s wife, Kyrstin Beasley, fired back at people who began blaming her husband for costing the Cowboys the game by responding with scathing profanity laced responses. It wasn’t long before the Dallas Morning News article appeared detailing Beasley’s responses.

Beasleys wife goes off on Twitter. Courtesy: Dallas Morning News Facebook page.

Beasleys wife goes off on Twitter. Courtesy: Dallas Morning News Facebook page.

 

I know plenty of people who if their children or significant others are attacked verbally or physically they will do whatever it takes to defend them. I completely understand the reasoning from the loved one’s point of view. Who doesn’t want to protect their beloved’s reputation? There is nothing wrong with that.

Kyrstin Beasley broke the cardinal rule of social media. Whether you are an individual or representing a major brand, as her husband does every time he puts on the silver helmet bearing the giant blue star – do not post when you are frustrated or riled up. When you respond while you are irritated you will be responding with pure emotion, instead of thinking sensibly.

Kyrstin Beasley later apologized for her profanity-filled tweets and eventually deleted her Twitter account. She attributed her outburst to someone on Twitter-speaking badly about her son.

Some Twitter users understood her frustration and offered her their support.

Tweets from Beasley supporters Courtesy: Twitter.com

Tweets from Beasley supporters Courtesy: Twitter.com

Even Cowboy teammate Dez Bryant tried to uplift her spirits.

Dez Bryant tweet supporting the Beasley family supporters Courtesy: Twitter.com

Dez Bryant tweet supporting the Beasley family supporters Courtesy: Twitter.com

Social media is intended for a two-way communication. Which works great when both sides are being respectful. Yes, even in frustration a person can civilly make their displeasure known.

It’s a sad commentary on today’s warped society, but there are people who have nothing better to do then attack and tear down other human beings. With the advent of social media mean spirited people can now launch written taunts while safely hiding behind their closest digital device.

Remember, just make sure you have a calm head when responding to internet trolls trying to push your buttons.  Feel free to reply to the haters, but turn the tables on them by responding in a polite way. Remember the old saying: “Kill them with kindness.”