Digital Marketing

Why You Should Never Tweet A News Release

By Rachael Seda (@rachaelseda)

I remember my first PR writing class. While I enjoyed it, I distinctively remember the painstaking feeling of having the creative joy sucked out of me when I had to write my first news release, and again when I wrote my second, and so on. If I didn’t want to read the thing, I couldn’t imagine why a busy reporter would actually care. But of course, as an aspiring communication professional, I kept these feelings to myself. No one else seemed to question their value. Right about this time, Twitter crept into existence, Facebook was now open to anyone and was thriving like a weed and YouTube was right around the corner.

As I embarked on the “real world” I still didn’t tell a soul about the torture I felt every time I was asked to write a news release. The old feelings of creative brain cells slowly dying crept up, but write them I did. One day a couple of years ago I decided to reach out to a communication professional I admire, one of my mentors, Gini Dietrich. Every week Gini answers a question posted on the Arment Dietrich Facebook page via video. To my delight, Gini wasn’t a fan of the news release either. I let out a sigh of relief; I was not the only one.

She later wrote, “I’ve never been a fan of the news release. I’ll go ahead and put it right out there. I think it makes PR pros lazy and clients too controlling. And it typically has no real effect on whether or not a journalist covers your story.”

Ironically, since 2010 (when I was finally able to publicly acknowledge my suppressed feelings of news release torment) I have come to terms with the fact that as a communication professional I’m going to have to write news releases (at least until everyone realizes just how boring they are). What truly gets under my skin though isn’t the press release anymore, it’s how it’s used.

I was recently sitting in a webinar on news releases with my co-workers when the presenter recommended we tweet our news releases to promote them. I felt like gasping out loud. I tried to hold back and finally I just couldn’t. “I just have to say I do not agree,” I blurted. Our intern looked up curiously and asked why. My reasoning? Would you sit down with your friends and read your press release to them? No. Would you read it to a group of prospective new business clients? Would you pass it out to people as you walked down the street? NO. Or at least I hope not.

I have been asked many times to tweet a news release and every time it makes my blood boil. That’s not social. It’s not a conversation. It reminds me of the annoying person that only likes to talk about themselves, constantly. No one cares. It’s like shoving dry cereal down someone’s throat without stopping to offer them milk. And my favorite reason, “if you tweet it the media could see it.” Oh please, I assure you the media isn’t going to pick up your news release because you blasted it on Twitter.

I do believe as communication professionals we should take the time to repurpose the key messages of our news release and create conversational and inspiring content that resonates with our audience, such as a blog post or video, etc. In this way you could feasibly tweet the information in your release but craft it in a way that’s appropriate for that medium. If I was a reporter, I’d be much more inspired to write about an engaging blog post or a creative video any day.

And because I can’t say it any better than Gini did, I will end with a quote from her blog post, No One Cares About Your News Release.

“Social media, content, blogging…this whole digital place we live in is about engagement and intelligent conversation and community building.

It’s not about you. It’s about them.

By posting your news release on your blog or social networks, you’re making it about you. And there is only one person in this entire world who cares about you as much as you do: Your mom.”

Yes, your mom. And I sure hope your mom isn’t your only customer or you may just end up like Will Ferrell in Wedding Crashers. I will get off my soap box now.

Image: FindYourSearch via Flickr, CC 2.0

 What do you think about news releases? Do you think they have a place on Twitter?

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About Rachael Seda:

AE, Health PR @PadillaCRT. Grew up barefoot in Hawaii. Social media geek. #JMU alum. Runner. Creative. Optimist. Cheese=my weakness. I dream of traveling the world.

12 Comments on “Why You Should Never Tweet A News Release

  1.  by  Brad Shorr
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    Rachael, You’ve written a very thought-provoking post here. I see the problem a little differently, in that the root problem isn’t so much tweeting press releases as it is companies spewing out press releases that have no value.

    If, for example, a company issued a press release to notify the market of a new service that could reduce your phone bill by 75%, I wouldn’t hesitate to tweet it, scream it, shout it from the rooftops. Unfortunately, new products and services that customers really care about don’t come along that often. And even when they do, companies often botch the press release by, as you say, making it about themselves rather than what customers care about.

    •  by  rseda
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      Hi Brad! Thanks for your comment. My view is while the press release may have a purpose, I think whether you have great content or not your press release is no what you should be pushing out your audience. Now I do think you should take this content and repurpose it in a consumer friendly way by writing a blog post (and writing one not reposting the press release) and sharing that with your audience via social media etc.

      Thank you for weighing in! I was hoping to strike up a good conversation and it’s always great to see the varying and/or similar views of my fellow professionals.

  2.  by  Gini Dietrich (@ginidietrich)
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    YAY! You got your blog post written. You already know how I feel about news releases, but I agree with Brad in that, if they’re of value, people do care. But can’t we tell the story differently than a typical release? Maybe just taking away the news release format will help PR pros be more creative in the story-telling aspect of it.

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  4.  by  rseda
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    Haha yes I did! Your morning trick works wonders! I’m with you…tell it differently. Gosh isn’t that a thought, maybe it’s the formatting that’s blocking the creative brain waves!!

  5.  by  Lisa
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    Great post, Rachael. As you know, I have mixed feelings about press releases -I still think they have a role to play in an integrated campaign, but as PR professionals, I think it’s always important for us to help our clients understand what tools to use when and how to get the most value out of them. I’ve gotten a lot of useful information from Twitter, and none of it has come in the form of a press release. I’m with Gini -there are clearly more interesting ways to convey the same information through social channels.

  6.  by  Rachael Seda
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    Thanks Lisa! Well I’m glad you didn’t hate it, I was worried you might come over and lecture me. Just kidding!!

  7.  by  Duncan Edwards
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    Does it really harm? You want your press release indexed by google. A good way to help that process is to tweet it. Everyone has an agenda on twitter. I am sure that my followers don’t mind if I tweet a press release occasionally. I post lots of interesting and personal stuff too. They know I have a living to earn inbetween the social stuff…

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  10.  by  rseda
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    Hi Duncan! Thanks for the comment. There’s definitely ways and more appropriate mediums in my opinion to send out your release and have it indexed by Google. I think it’s all about how you say something and who you’re talking to. The way I answer the phone when I know it’s my Mom compared to when I know it’s a possible job offer are two different things. In essence, I greet all of them but differently. While I don’t believe in promoting your press release via social networks I do believe in repurposing that content appropriately and sharing it, i.e. via an engaging blog post.

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