Can Twitter Replace The Press Release for Breaking News?

With social media becoming an increasingly prominent source of real-time news, there’s been great debate in our industry regarding the future of the humble press release.

Anthony Simon, head of digital communications at Number 10 and the Cabinet Office, recently spoke at the Technology for Marketers & Advertisers Conference in London where he proposed that organisations should look to break news quickly through Twitter and shun press releases as the primary way of getting news out.

But is he right? In our digital age, how should we really communicate news? Do the ‘death of the press release’ reports bear any weight?…

Well, if you think about it, the press release predates television and has evolved like any other form of communication. Press releases were traditionally typed out and sent via a telegram, then later by fax, and now people send them through email and digital newswires – it’s essentially the same process, but it’s just been modernised.

In my opinion, the press release absolutely has a place in today’s marketing mix. But while press releases are far from dead, it is safe to say the purpose of the press release has evolved, as well as the way that we distribute it. In previous years it was primarily for reporters. Now, one of the biggest benefits is SEO. If you incorporate keywords into your press release and issue it to a wire service, or even upload it to your own site, it will help you and your business, product, or service rank higher in search engine results.

Press releases also make great content for social media, whether that’s through a link to the news area of your website, or by picking out snippets of information to share.

While Twitter can break news in real-time before the newswire, when it comes to major events there is little evidence to suggest it can replace the press release. After all, our thirst for knowledge and detail simply can’t be satisfied in just 140 characters. Only a press release – straight from the horse’s mouth – can provide the fully story.

By Becky Johns, PR Manager

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