Mostly Everything

Going paperless with press releases

This March 26, the world celebrates Earth Hour. At its worst, it is a commercialized gimmick to make us feel like we’re really doing something for the environment. At its best, it can be a means for a society to achieve greater things and effect real change. This 2011, Earth Hour’s theme is all about “Going Beyond the Hour.”

As a media person for both print and online publications, I have noticed that there is one behavior in the PR industry that hasn’t evolved well into the digital age: the giving away of physical press releases during events. It comes with no secret that a good number of people in the media prefer digital copies of press releases and photos emailed to them since actual physical copies merely take up space and contribute to clutter. My room is filled with such envelopes, folders and press releases that I recycle them as scratch paper. Eek, what a waste!

In today’s media, we merely email the material to the editor in charge, which in turn gets sent to the graphic artist, which then gets copy+pasted into the layout (which is also most publications prefer text in .rtf format FYI).

At a time when we have the means to use more effective ways to send data through the Internet, maybe we should revisit the practice of PR material, limiting the physical and going full on digital.

I have talked to a number of (current and former) PR practitioners and they give me two sides:

a. It does not cost a lot to print these press releases so it should be an easy thing to transition towards.

b. Agencies add printing of PR material as part of their cost to clients as a way of making additional money.

To address letter B , maybe an agency could still charge the same amount and use the allocation to fund a “green” campaign in the office. Or something. Anything!

To transition to digital, there are so many ways you can ensure that your press release gets sent and published.

Scribd is the “YouTube of documents.” Instead of sending the press release via email to online publishers, why not upload the PR material onto and send the embed link to your online publication contacts. That way, all they need to do is copy+paste the link onto their sites. As an addded bonus, you will also be able to monitor statistics / views.

YouSendIt / SendSpace
These are two good services to use if you are sending big files. Sending huge files via email can choke your server. These 2 services allow you to send files below 100MB for free (SendSpace allows up to 300MB) to anybody via an email download link. This is YouSendIt. This is SendSpace.

For the more creative, you can also start a Dropbox group. Dropbox is perhaps the most efficient way of sharing files within a group. When you sign up (it’s free!), you get about 2GB worth of space and you can share folders with other Dropbox users. Since the service also works on your desktop, you can simply drag and drop files to your Dropbox folder (i.e. “tech media”) and the files automatically sync with the folders of everyone in your list.

These are but three ways PR practitioners can transition to more effective ways of delivering their releases. It isn’t just about “doing our part” — it’s also more about being effective. Think of the paper you’d save and think of a more effective way of delivery! If you have any suggestions on how this can be improved, do chime in! If you like this idea, share it with others! 🙂