In support of the traditional press release

Why do we, as a digital agency, still use the traditional medium of the press release? I can tell you why – because it works. And it works well.

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The multi media release

Many people believed that the dawning of the digital era was a time when the humble (or often, not so humble, depending on who wrote it) press release would become obsolete. Move over press release, and all hail the new and improved multi media release. Or more dramatically, don’t bother issuing anything at all – let the mountain come to Mohammed.

There is, without shadow of a doubt, space for the multi media but it does assume that the recipient is ready and willing to receive such a raft of information and that, should they have specific email or WiFi settings, your contribution to their outlet may simply not arrive. And we all know that a follow up asking if your information arrived safely is toe-curlingly cringeworthy.

For companies that only reach out to the media or blogging community once or twice a year, perhaps during a big, scheduled campaign, they may well decide to throw all their resources in to producing epic amounts of alternative resources. And let’s face it, some companies and organisations definitely lend themselves to this sort of visual activity. However, forcing the issue by creating videos and images for the sake of it, can be an expensive waste of time and energy. Appropriateness to the organisation, budget and importance of the campaign should be taken into account.

For some companies, regular updates on products or services are necessary and expected by their target media (take the mortgage market for example) and in this case, the press release is a pretty efficient means of disseminating that information.

Mountain to Mohammed

One of the strategies much-discussed is that of self-publishing. ‘Don’t issue a press release but instead, create a good blog post or share your story on social media’, they say, ‘and if it’s really newsworthy your audience will come to you’.

Smaller organisations are less likely to make headlines without a bit of PR legwork

In my opinion, this ‘sit back and wait’ approach is usually recommended by those that work for big brands and essentially already have a good following. Unless the organisation or story is truly unique (be honest here!), smaller organisations are unfortunately not going to make headlines without a little more stone turning.

Why not cover off all bases and do both, allowing writers to interact with you in the way that best suits them?

Creation by committee

One of the more useful aspects of creating a traditional press release is the fact that it focuses the minds to create content that really summarises the news. I write ‘minds’ quite specifically, as one of the criticisms of the press release is its creation by committee. However, often including R&D, marketing, brand, operations, legal etc. enables the organisation to really fight out just what really matters within a relatively limited word count. The result should be a great summary of the story.

I am very aware though that this process is not always a success and accounts for most of the negativity around press releases. All too often the real news is buried, perhaps there wasn’t any news in the first place, or it is so massaged by superlatives, it becomes fairly sickening to read. Strong marketing and PR bottle is much needed here to ensure the press release isn’t hijacked by sales.

Sweating the asset

If a useful variant can be agreed, that becomes a great resource on which to base all other materials:

  • Sure, a blogger may not want the whole thing, but the wording is a great basis for blogger outreach
  • A key media contact may want bullet points but that can be easily extracted
  • It can be easily converted to a blog post as well as third party content too
  • And lesser known, but potentially interested parties, may prefer the whole shebang so they understand who the company is and a little of the context of the news

A client of ours once called this ‘sweating the asset’, and it’s a totally apt description.

Micro-targeting

Micro-targeting is a much-used phrase – particularly when niche audiences lurk in forums, or within social media groups, but there is no reason why an adapted version of the press release is not relevant here. Once a master draft is largely agreed, different versions can be quickly produced for different target audiences too – perhaps geographically, trade and consumer etc.

A dodo?

At Browser Media, we use the press release as the lynchpin for almost all campaign work and that’s because we’re still getting massive amounts of success with it.

 

The traditional press release format is far from becoming the dodo that many prophesied.

 

We also produce numerous assets for clients including video, infographics and images and use them appropriately depending on our outreach plans but can I see a future without some form of traditional press release? The answer is no.

As long as there is a story and as long as it’s well-written, I believe the press release is alive and kicking and a long way away from becoming the dodo that many prophesied.

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