Reports of the demise of a the press release have been mooted for as long as I can remember. But they remain.
I don't doubt that the large majority of carefully crafted press releases, carrying the hopes of the PR exec and their client, are left unread and ignored.
Having editing the PSMG Magazine for the past decade, I have seen some shockers. Badly written, poor grammar, pushing a stories that make a wet weekend in Bognor look exciting. 'Lawyers have dogs too' still makes me chuckle.
They are, as this young PR exec argues, all too often the equivalent of the 'duck-faced selfie' much loved by teenage girls and Daily Mail celebs - brands focused too much on themselves and not the audience.
But the press release does have a role.
At its heart, the press release remains the source of a potential story. In the professional services space that might be a deal completed, new staff, a new service or product line, or commentary of breaking news.
Use the press release as a way of thinking through your story. If you are struggling to write it or to make it interesting, how will a journalist respond?
And if you start writing "We are delighted to announce..." stop. How many newspaper stories have you seen that open their scoop that way.
The press release was a document born of necessity. Public relations professionals realised the best way to get ahead of the story and speculation was to distribute a short statement of the facts. And it took off. Many PRs don’t think you should create them, while many startups and marketers believe they should be cranking them out because it shows what a real company they are. In the mean time, the language of communication has changed and the means of publishing have spread. What was once the only way to market has become just one option. In the current communications mix, the press release has become a pouting, superficial self-portrayal -- often largely unwelcomed, leaving the subject disparaged behind its back. Duck-faced brands smile on obliviously, instead of thinking about what would encourage someone else to hold the camera.