One reason press releases have changed in 2015 is that public relations and the public has changed. In the 1920s, headlines for press releases were in the style of radio broadcasts.

Press Releases Then and Now

Here’s a headline from October 1929 from a Brooklyn Daily Eagle NY newspaper: “Wall Street In Panic As Stocks Crash.” In the 1940s, headlines reflected current events and political figures.

Press releases after the 1960s tended to rely on catch phrases and acronyms. The content of press releases changed from a regimented style utilizing the typical, “Who, What, When, Where and Why” to today’s freer style of press releases focused mainly on the subject followed by added information.

This example of press releases at present is from the New York Post’s February 2015 Business section report on the Doral Bank in Puerto Rico: The first sentence contains information about the FDIC shut down of the bank before it goes into details about the location or the amount of deposits and assets.

Public relations changed to adapt to the public’s desire to get to the heart of a news or press release quickly. Public interest in press releases demands a format that meets with the public’s scanning style of reading and selecting keywords quickly.

Social Media Changes Press Releases

Depending on the venue used to announce press releases, there’s a need to format public relations and press releases to conform to demands of search engines and social media like Twitter. A press release in 2015 is formatted to include keywords users access via search engines quickly. Keyword use in press releases is the mechanism that creates faster online visibility. Use of unique keywords in headlines and content increases traffic to a website. Press release content needs to contain sufficient quantities of keywords without appearing “stuffed” and/or difficult to read. For Twitter, for example, the amount of content is limited by the number of words allowed in a “tweet.” In this example, hash tags often are an identifying link to the content of the press release. The hash tag becomes a preview of the content.

Capturing Public Attention

The other part of a case study of the state of the press release in 2015 is that the ability to capture public attention. It’s more difficult than in the past due to greater competition for media visibility. With an increased number of media outlets, online and social media venues, press releases must offer instant news with lightening speed.

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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.