Real Talk: Are Press Releases Still Relevant?

Hi Guys! Emma here, SHPR’s Spring intern.

As I dive deeper into my PR classes, I’m noticing a pretty major shift in the industry - my classes are focused more on targeted pitches vs. the good old fashioned Press Releases. That lead me to wonder, are Press Releases still relevant? Do editor’s even have the time to read a full press release? I was curious to know what Sara and her peers thought, so I set out to interview a few Austin PR agencies to get there opinion.

Here at Sara Hussey PR, we’re still fans of the press release when making a big announcement like a launch or grand opening. We always make sure our client knows press releases are straightforward and sometimes a little boring. Press releases are best when used as fact sheets for our clients. We like to give the media all the  important information they could ever need on a client. And bonus, writing a press release gives our team the opportunity to dive deep, fully research and learn everything there is to know about our clients. Once we get our client’s approval, we’re confident we understand the brand’s story, history and messaging.

We asked some of our favorite PR gals their opinion on press releases and if they think they are still used/needed within the industry. We also wanted to know if they had any tips for writing a press release.

Here is what they had to say…

From Cara Caulkins:

Founder of Cara Caulkins Communications

Cara Caulkins .jpg

“I think press releases are still relevant as it relates to announcing larger company news. Especially for national news/product launches it’s a great way to get the word out broadly (via newswire services) for smaller brands and companies and you’ll find that large corporations often use press releases on their websites or within newsletters to announce items to their investors and stakeholders.

For localized news, I think it helps internally to write a press release on the announcement so that both the brand and PR agency have approved messaging.

As far as tips, a good model to follow is making sure you’re putting the big news first, followed by supporting details, a quote from someone at the company and then a “for more information” and direct to website final closing paragraph.”

From Callie Neatherlin:

Founder of Caption Communications

Callie Neatherlin .jpg

“I believe press releases are still a viable source and are a part of a marketing strategy as a whole for a client. However, there is always a time and place when creating and distributing them. Releases provide our clients with another way to share what their story is and sometimes, the client’s story has so much relevant information that we can’t fit into a short pitch. We like to include hyperlinks or a Digital Media Kit that holds a release, high res images and more detailed information that allows interested editors the opportunity to have everything in one place, without overloading their inbox.”

From Lisa O’Neil:

Founder of Breakaway Public Relations

Lisa Oneill .jpg

“Press releases continue to be an effective tool to communicate with media and influencers alike. In fact, it’s a necessity for some industries - corporate, publicly traded, government, large associations, etc. As long as the release is well-written in a journalistic format and sent to a relevant media list (ie, know your list, know their audience), it’s a valuable tool to ensure thoughtful distribution of pre-approved news.”

From Arielle Olfers:

Founder of The Southern Influence


“While I believe press releases are still an industry standard, they definitely aren't used by media or PR professionals as much as they used to be. As a firm, we strongly believe that a custom pitch per publication or writer is the best way to secure coverage for the brands we represent. I am always more interested in the story a journalist will be drawn into, or the ways that a brand story can fit a publication's audience best. I have found that press releases work well when it comes to business-related announcements, new business openings, where journalists need a formal release for "New to Austin" coverage or want to speak specifically to a change in leadership, menu items, quotes from the business owners, notes from investors, real estate, etc. We've seen a lot of results from sharing a press release in an invite to an event as an attachment, but it's rarely my first and only touch to media.”

“A simple rule of thumb - press releases are used whenever there’s too much interest from the media to follow up individually, but if you have time to call on people individually, you should take the time to do that for the benefit of your client!”


About the Author

Hi everyone! My name is Emma DeNard and I am from Cypress, TX! I am a senior at UT Austin, majoring in Journalism. I love running, traveling, drinking coffee, eating yummy food and spending time with my friends and family. Fun fact about me is that I LOVE cities, especially Austin!