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With the proliferation of social media and its concurrent appearance a couple of years ago of the “social media press release,” it would seem the traditional press release is bound for the proverbial circular file. When you consider the rapid decline in newspapers and magazines, one wonders if there’s even anyone out there to send a release.

A recent survey by Ragan Communications and PollStream found that most PR practitioners are not ready to give up the old standby yet:

The poll found that 49 percent of 401 respondents believe press releases are “as useful as ever.” Another 33 percent said releases a necessary evil that won’t go away soon, in part because of SEC notification rules. Almost two-thirds (64 percent) said they target press releases most often to print outlets, and 23 percent target online news and financial sites as well.

Nearly half (45 percent) of respondents cited social media as the culprit in press releases’ loss of relevance. But 23 percent blamed the demand for a more trustworthy and/or engaging information source and 24 percent cited the decline of the newspaper and magazine industry.

But for now, it looks like the press release is still relevant. We still use them here at our agency, though now we add more links in the first paragraph, make sure we optimize keywords in the headline and body copy and keep them shorter and tighter — all ways to optimize them for search engines. Each release also gets posted to a Web site with its own URL, which also expands its reach on the Internet.

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