Author Archives: Ken Dowell

The Death – and Rebirth – of the Press Release

Have you followed the “press release is dead” argument?  If you are in PR it is hard to avoid.  It has been blogged and tweeted about for years now.

The more narrow your conception of the press release the more likely this argument is to resonate.  Certainly the printed words on paper variety is destined for display on a typewriter or telex machine in the communications museum.  The name press release itself is obsolete.  Press is only part of the goal now and it is more like publishing than releasing.

PR Newswire multimedia press release

A fully-loaded multimedia press release incorporating video, images, links and more

I like to compare the evolution of press release to a plant that withers with the first frost but not before spreading its seeds through the landscape.  With the change of seasons the offspring are bigger, richer and greener.

So what has happend to the press release?  Is it dead, or has it been reborn as a rich package of digital content that is more like a landing page or microsite?

The publication of a release now has a very visual impact.  Not just in terms of fonts and  format but more significantly with the inclusion of multimedia elements ranging from logos to photos, video and slide shows.  Through links it has become a resource to far more information than can be written on its front page.  And through optimization and social media sharing it has become a distribution capsule.

The growth in the potential audience is even more dramatic.  Where we used to add slugs like “to assignment editor” we now are thinking of reaching customers, investors, consumers, business partners and news junkies, not to mention friends, followers and connections.

So I won’t be participating in the memorialization of this age-old communications tool.   I’m much more interested in celebrating what it has become and anxiously planning how to cultivate its future growth.

Authored by Ken Dowell, EVP, PR Newswire

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The Searchable Social Graph: Content is the New Destination

Of all the announcements that have come from the major social media properties about new services in recent weeks, the one that really piqued my interest was the announcement from Bing and Facebook ( about how Facebook “friending” and “likes” would be incorporated in Bing search results.


PR Newswire press release social media search

Search results from Bing, displaying an array of content from news sources and social networks


It has become pretty common to see graphs displayed showing the relative share of Web views between Google and Facebook as a way of demonstrating Facebook’s growth.  My reaction to those stats is “so what?”  I don’t think the future is going to be about the competitive share between a search engine and a social media property but rather about how the two can work together to provide even more effective experiences for users.

Search and social have become the two primary means of accessing content in general and, more specifically, the key vehicles for targeting news.

The search engines eliminated the destination-centric approach to Web browsing.  Go directly to the content you want irrespective of whose site it might be sitting on.  For marketers it offers the promise of targeting ads in a more intelligent way than the traditional parameters of age, sex and location.  (A promise which in my view is only in its infancy and is largely unfulfilled.)

The social properties, particularly Facebook, removed a lot of the anonymity of the interactive Web.  Suddenly we were dealing with real people with real names instead of goofy monikers or email addresses.  It also introduced the process of passing information, whether news or marketing driven, with implied endorsement from friends, followers or connections.  That’s potentially a far more compelling targeting device than a keyword or an algorithm

So it is no surprise that a key focus of social media sites has been to improve their search while the search engines have been working on bringing social media content into their search results.

I’m not entirely sure how the potential combination of search and social will be tapped in the future and we will no doubt see applications of this that few of us have thought of.  But I am pretty certain that what is going to matter is search and social not search or social.

Authored by Ken Dowell, Executive Vice President, PR Newswire