Coca Cola Journey – Why the press release ain’t dead yet!

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Coca Cola has developed a new digital magazine hybrid which was built to support and eventually replace; corporate website, corporate blog and social media channels – called Coca Cola-Journey. In a recent seminar introducing the new platform,  Ashley Brown, Digital Communications Social Media for Coca Cola, stated “If there is one mission I have at Coke, it’s to kill the press release”…. Finishing up in the clip with “we have committed to cut the amount of press releases by half in 2014.”

OK PR and marketing reps, Insert “Grain of Salt” here.

I agree that we are in a time and place where it is imperative for PR reps to think ‘beyond’ a press kit, static website, launch package, and media release for their client. (But then… I have always operated under this belief). I also think that if there is anyone to explore and introduce this innovative, brand-interactive platform it would probably be Coke. But I do feel that language Brown uses in the intro such as “the corporate website it dead” or “the age of Press release PR is ending” … needs to be taken in context and seen in light of individual corporate goals and corporate brand placement.

So before you create all-interactive-all-the-time strategy for your client, take this into account;

Sure, kill the press release – Easy to say when you have had brand domination for over 100 years….! Everyone knows Coca Cola’s story, history, brand, image, not to mention they are one of the most recognizable symbols in the world! (besides the holy cross) Yes, you can probably afford to cut down your releases by half and people will still be talking about you.

But there exists a place for rich storytelling through media, perhaps now more than ever. Every story has been already told (sold), but it’s up to us as PR experts to find the innovative, moral and socio-economic relevance of our clients and tell their stories in a new way. It can’t be on the journalists shoulders to find those angles, nuances, and myriad of possibilities. Too much already, we are bogged down by headline inertia and everything ends up reading like a tabloid – bite sized, shock worthy, sharable and desensitized.

Are we just wanting to ‘hear the facts’ or do we want to learn, grow and be challenged and engaged with our news? I think Coke has been a giant so long that they don’t know what it’s like trying to get your neck out above the fray in this day and age…. and why should they? They’re Coke!

But for the rest of us – I would argue that the press release is still very much alive and an important tool in the spectrum of outreach and creating touch points with customers.

What do you think? – Is social media a means to an end or the end itself, if so WHEN does it make that fundamental shift in a brand’s journey to take on such a life of its own?

Take the poll PR pros and marketers! 🙂

@catalystpr

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