Issuing a press release to announce everything and anything was the norm not too long ago. Today, as social media has become more important, the role of the press release has become less important. In fact, if your goal is to receive a “real” story in the media, a press release is simply not the way to go.
Speaking with members of the media, one insider recently explained to us that she “hates getting press releases.” She said they are just a waste of time. Instead, most reporters and media outlets prefer a very short pitch that quickly and efficiently tells the who-what-where-when of a story. After the pitch, if they are interested in the story you can provide additional background information.
Other reporters now prefer to be pitched through social media. Twitter is often the primary place to do this, but LinkedIn and Facebook can also be used. One disclaimer here – you need to have a preexisting relationship with a reporter to reach them through social media. If you don’t know the person you are pitching, trying to reach them through Facebook or LinkedIn may ensure they never cover your story.
Search engine optimization (SEO) once played an important role with release. This has also changed, as Google has started to view these items as paid advertisements instead of true original content such as a blog.
So, when should you use a press release? Releases still play an important role in several ways. In some industries there are regulatory requirements for issuing press releases. Other times it may be necessary to issue a release for board members or investor relations. One thing you should do if you issue a release is use a wire service such as Business Wire or PR Newswire. This will ensure your release is picked up on major sites across the country. If you do this, however, don’t try to claim your story was picked up by CBSNews.com – the reality is their website automatically picked up your release – not your story. This is still important, but those are two very different things.
So while there is still a role for the traditional press release, if your goal is to generate broadcast coverage of your company, a release simply isn’t the way to go.