There is an ongoing discussion out there about whether or not the press release is dead. (Google: “is the press release dead?” – you’ll see.) And on that topic, in my humble opinion, the title “press release” is dead. It should now be called a “news release” or a “media release” to reflect the shift in journalism from print publications to broadcast and digital media. According to Wikipedia, the press release was first used in 1906 after a train wreck. It was distributed to the press, which back then was printed.
We believe the news release still has value, but you have to clearly define what the objective of your announcement is in order to decide if a news release is the right option for your outreach. Sometimes a targeted pitch is better. However, for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes, a news release can be a good tool. It can help you directly connect to your target audience. There are lots of free or reasonably low-cost websites out there where you can upload your news release and help your target audience find you.
There is also, of course, the digital news release (also called the social media news release) that includes images, video, links and other resources. We’re big fans of this because we believe that there is an opportunity for organizations to authentically tell their story through images, video and well-written content. The digital news release may be a media relations tool, but it is also brand journalism.
Whatever format you choose – your news release needs to be informative and newsworthy. Those lame quotes should be pulled (although full disclosure, we distribute some releases with them because the client insists), and anything that isn’t newsworthy or doesn’t answer who, what, when, where, why and how doesn’t belong. Your news release needs to provide value; it needs to meet the criteria of being newsworthy. It needs to tell the journalist something that will be of interest, in some way, to their audience. We put our clients’ news releases through the “who cares” test – if no one outside of their workplace or immediate family is going to be excited about the information in the release, we need to either identify more interesting and timely information or talk to our client and see if this information isn’t better suited for a newsletter or other internal communication piece.