Before the Internet became such a driving force for connecting with customers, one of the most common tactics of public relations practitioners was to build and maintain strong relationships with members of the news media. Journalists represented the only viable avenue for connecting with a wide audience, and so media relations was critically important to any PR strategy.

One of the most effective tools of media relations was the press release. Whenever organizations had something big to share, such as a new product, the hiring of a new executive or the opening of a new location, they worked with a press release writer to get the news out there.

Related: What’s so special about a press release writer?

In the face of a rapidly changing media environment, the press release may no longer seem like an effective tool. Marketers now have many options outside of traditional media to reach consumers, so why go through the hassle of writing and distribution a press release? However, the truth is that the press release continues to have an important role in connecting with customers and buyers directly.

Benefits of online press releases

Today, by using services like PRWeb, PR Newswire or BusinessWire, you can get your press release to a wide audience, including publication on Google News, Yahoo! News or countless other news syndication services. This has obvious search engine optimization efforts, while allowing you to communicate directly with your customers using a professional and credible medium—a well-written press release.

With online press releases, you also have the ability to track your results. You can see which releases got the most traffic and which outlets yielded the best outcomes. This information allows you to fine-tune your future releases to optimize your results, and gives your press release writer some valuable feedback.

This isn’t to say that media members no longer play a role in this process. Media relations continues to be an important part of many PR strategies, and the credibility provided by an article about your organization in a newspaper or trade publication is unrivaled. But now, unlike in the past, you don’t have to reserve press releases for only the “big” news—any new developments occurring with your business, internally or externally, can make for effective press release writing.

An organization that leverages press releases with a consistent vision simply appears more credible. If a business is self-aware enough to adjust to the times and maintain regular contact with their consumers, it appears stable and self-aware. Moreover, it shows that you care enough to keep your customers informed.

The look and feel of the media has changed a lot over the past decade and a half, but the press release is still alive and well. In fact, if implemented in the right way, you may find that these tools are more useful than ever before.

Ben F. is a copywriter with ProPRcopy, a firm that offers press releases, articles, blog content, website copy and a wide range of other content services.