Google didn’t kill the press release; it was already dead but PR’s not dying either

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  • August 13, 2013

RIP-Press-releaseSo, there’s been a lot of talk in the industry recently about how Google has ‘killed the PR industry’. I couldn’t disagree more, so let’s take a look at this ‘theory’ in more detail. Firstly, pretty much all of the articles I’ve read about this have been written by people who clearly have no understanding of how the PR industry works as they all seem to have come to the conclusion that because Google says to no-follow links in press releases, this means PR is dead.

Newsflash: The PR industry isn’t just press releases, in fact, they’ve been dying long before Google got involved.

All of this talk seems to have been sparked by Matt Cutts (Head of the web spam team at Google) when he referred to  updated guidelines saying that “links with optimised anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites” would be considered unnatural links and a violation of their guidelines.

For a start, no PR I have ever met would even think about putting an anchor text link in a press release so this is not aimed at the PR industry. This is aimed at SEOs who have previously crammed a load of anchor text links into a press release (which, let’s face it – probably didn’t contain any real news) and then spun it out on news wires, that again, probably aren’t even monitored by real journalists.

The kind of press releases that real PRs send out would not go out on a news wire and would not contain anchor text links (in all honesty, most PRs still don’t know what an anchor text link is!).

It’s also worth pointing out that talk about ‘the press release being dead’ has been circling the PR industry for years (or, at least over the past five years that I’ve been working within the PR industry) so this is not a new theory just because Google has updated its guidelines, shockingly, Google actually isn’t king in the PR industry.

The real reason that press releases are, or have been dying is because journalists (the intended recipients for releases) just simply don’t like them. Journalists now, and probably always did, want personalised approaches with content that is relevant to them and their audience. Rarely would a PR campaign centre around the use of a press release, as PR is all about relationships which you just cannot create with a press release.

Further proof that Google isn’t killing the PR industry comes in Google’s newest update in which it has introduced ‘in-depth articles’ in the SERPs; chances are, a lot of these articles will be as a result of some contact with a PR at some stage. So I see this as great news for PRs as actually, it seems Google is rewarding real PR activity.

There always seems to be talk these days of some industry or part of an industry dying; just last month the Guardian told us that SEO was dead however, as my colleagues Tim and Patrick say – it’s not search engine optimisation that’s dead, it’s search engine manipulation that’s dead.

I personally don’t see the PR or SEO industries dying for a long time and these stories usually seem to be coming from scared, spammy SEOs whose tactics are being hit and are therefore panicking about what to do. Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments below.

Laura Crimmons

About Laura Crimmons

With an extensive background in both traditional and online PR, Laura is Branded3’s Communications Director and leads our PR team. Laura works on the accounts of our biggest clients, developing and executing creative PR strategies which get brands talked about in all the right places, by the right people.

  • Edward Smith

    Hi Laura, I agree with what you said about the SEO people panicking and this statement “these stories usually seem to be coming from scared, spammy SEOs whose tactics are being hit and are therefore panicking about what to do.” I always expect they are using those articles to collect my email in the process in addition to their stated goals.

    And I agree with your point that the better PR agencies are using focused, targeted pitches to place their clients information and not press releases to any heavy extent. I work with smaller clients doing their own publicity and we find that these targeted, focused pitches get in under the radar and score a much higher percentage of interviews, articles, etc, than other approaches. And they are cost effective since there is no press release distribution costs.

    OK, thanks for this, Edward Smith.

    • Laura Crimmons

      Thanks for the comment Edward :)

  • Robert Mackin

    It is interesting that Google sets all of these rules about what you should not do, like buying PR links and paying for press releases which pass PR, but these techniques still work as does blog commenting.

  • Joshua

    There is little doubt using press releases, especially paid ones for link building are dead. I’d agree that many of the press releases submitted by SEO firms were not newsworthy in the first place. I’d also submit that press releases died pretty much once SEOs got their hands on them, which was before journalists did not want them and Google did not like them for the purposes of link building.

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