I think the press release gets a bad rap – mainly because they are often used wrongly. People use them to try to promote products (that’s advertising) or to spam publications in the hope the release will just be copied and pasted.
A press release should be exactly what it implies – a release of information of interest to the media – perhaps media release is a better term to use.
A good press release will include all of the details a journalist needs to create a story – the what, why, how, where, when and who. But they won’t write it word for word, or copy and paste. The idea is to spark interest so the journalist will phone up for more details, or come along to an event and report on it themselves.
They were never meant to be the story – just indicate that there might be a story of interest there if the journalist does some digging. And any good PR person would always, always follow up with a phone call, not just rely on the release to be sufficient.
So why do they get a bad rap now?
One of the reasons they have a bad reputation nowadays is because in the early days of SEO there were sites set up which just published press releases so companies started spamming all their releases to these sites to boost their ratings – this practice no longer works but it’s one of the reasons why press releases became a dirty word in digital marketing.
However as a PR tactic, they still have a role to play. I recently sent a release to a news reporter for a client, after they won a national award. It included the basic details and some nice quotes, as well as my contact details and the journalist responded immediately, asking if he could interview the owner of the company and resulted in a nice half page article in the client’s local newspaper.
Press releases as a way to pique a journalist’s interest, still have a place, but should be just one PR tactic used by businesses. They are a way to get information of interest, succinctly to a reporter, in the hope that they will want to find out more.
Bear in mind that if you send in rubbish releases they will just be digitally spiked – sent to the recycle bin – so why bother!
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