Here’s a question I see A LOT in the public relations industry. “Are press releases still necessary?”
Now, if you follow me, you’ll know I’m a fan of press releases. My first guest post ever was for PR Daily on this very subject (Enough with the death of the press release already). So, when I hear talk of their demise, I always feel as if it’s coming from someone who’s just tired of writing press releases.
While I DO believe in the value of press releases and reports of its death are greatly exaggerated, the truth is, you don’t always need to write one whenever you have news to announce, as my recent piece for Muck Rack discusses.
But, even if you don’t really need one, it can be valuable to write one anyway. What do I mean? Let me give you an example.
I recently began working with a client who’d already earned some media coverage and wondered if they still “needed” a press release to officially announce their project.
While I explained that they don’t need one, I told them they might want one. Why?
The process of writing a press release forces you to think about what’s important. The exercise itself helps you organize your thoughts. What key messages really matter? It helps you to focus and call out the information you most want the audience to walk away with.
And, the press release is written in a brand’s own words, versus stories in the media, so it allows the company control over the messaging.
It also demonstrates that the brand is making strides. If journalists or others are looking for background on a company, they’ll check its site. If you post your press releases there, anyone can tell at a glance what the company’s accomplished. Visitors will see a history and feel the momentum, as in, “This brand is making announcements, it’s going places.” There’s nothing worse than visiting a company’s site and seeing they haven’t made an announcement in three years. (And, unfortunately, this happens more often than you may think.)
Once the press release is drafted, it can serve as a document from which you pull information to feed other efforts. You may find yourself referring to the press release to grab a sound bite for other marketing purposes. Need a few key messages to drop into an email or marketing piece? The press release is the perfect place to find those. Need to create some social media posts for a particular campaign? Use some details from the press release.
Once you’ve written it, what else can you do with a press release?
Here are five ways you can plug it into your marketing and PR efforts:
- Pitch it to the media: If it’s relevant, you can always send it to local reporters or industry publications.
- Post it on social media: Of course, it’s always a good idea to share your press release on social media. Write a brief post and include a link to the release on your site.
- Share it via a newswire service: There are paid newswire services (like PRWeb and PR Newswire), and then there are free ones (like PR.com or PRLog.com). PRWeb is reasonably priced, if you have “bigger” news you want to share widely.
If you don’t want to spend the money on a wire service, the free ones can work to get it on the search engines. PR.com, in particular, seems to work well for this.
- Share it internally: Make sure everyone within the company knows about the news. They may even choose to share it via their own social media channels. Or, they may be able to use it in some way in their day-to-day role (such as the sales team who might share it with customers).
- Share it in your newsletter: If you have a newsletter (and you probably should, if you don’t), share the news there, too. Companies are also looking for material to include, and a press release contains information that would be ideal for this.
Of course, don’t forget the visuals to go along with the press release, which is becoming increasingly important in a world of decreasing attention spans.
The bottom line is that press releases are not dead. Even when you don’t need one, it can still be useful to write one. It’s a multi-use tool that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially for small businesses or startups that need to stretch their marketing dollars as far as they can.
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