Should You Send a Release?

December 1st, 2009
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Flickr Image: josh.liba

Flickr Image: josh.liba

Contrary to some, the press release is far from dead and continues to be a useful tool for public relations practitioners.  In fact, a recent poll conducted by Ragan Communications and PollStream found nearly 50 percent of corporate communicators believe press releases are “as useful as ever.”  

By definition, a press release (aka news release) is an announcement sent to (targeted) news media for the purpose of letting the public know of company developments, events, or other newsworthy items.

My esteemed Twitter friend, Bill Prickett, APR, recently wrote some benefits of a well-planned, well-placed news release – an inexpensive way to get publicity, which includes:  building your brand/image/reputation/business, providing consumer information/education, lending credibility to your message, and driving traffic.

But the question at-hand is should you send a release?  Years ago, I attended a marketing and sales training workshop where the trainer taught us about the “so what” (or “who cares”) test. The same concept applies when determining whether your release is newsworthy enough to send.  For example, if you say the headline/topic aloud – “XYZ company opens new location,” you should then follow it up by thinking like the reporter or reader, and asking “so what?” or “who cares?”  It might mean that locals won’t have to drive so far or they will have more selection and shorter lines, etc.  In other words, if your release can’t pass the “so what” test and illustrate why the news has value, then don’t send it! 

I’m not saying that a press release is the only or best way to get your news out to the media – and, ultimately, your stakeholders. Journalistics recently reported that he believes blog posts and tweeting may be a better way of sharing news with your stakeholders.  According to MarketingCharts, Ragan.com’s Lindsey Miller noted that corporate communicators are increasingly using social media as a way to get around “canned” information, and to personalize, target, and reach reporters.

Every circumstance is unique and not all situations will warrant release to the media, but the press release is still an integral part of the PR toolkit.  Do you agree?  Why or why not?

10 Responses to “Should You Send a Release?”

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  3. Kelli says:

    As a journalist… I like getting press releases. Does it mean I will post it? Maybe or maybe not, but I like not having to search hundreds or thousands of places to find something that interests my readers (and ME!) Send it, I just might post it.

  4. Thanks for reading and commenting, Kelli. Just as you don’t want to search through hundreds/thousands of places to find information, I’m sure you also don’t want to sift through hundreds of emailed press releases IF the topics have nothing to do with your areas of interest. I think that’s the key – the sender must do their homework by reading what you write so they (at least) believe what they are sending will interest you…not that they always will, but there’s a solid chance! 🙂

  5. Sherry says:

    I was quite surprised today when I saw a story in the Washington Post with quotes taken from our news release — even though the reporter attended the news conference. A few years ago that would never have happened. So it seems the release is still viable, particularly with all the tight deadlines reporters are facing — or maybe the quotes were just too good to pass up?

  6. Kelly Rusk says:

    Just as you state “I’m not saying that a press release is the only or best way to get your news out to the media”

    On the other side of that, the media isn’t the only way to get a news out either. D.M. Scott wrote The New Rules of Marketing and PR which is all about how a company can build up it’s own audience in social media and other online channels and get even more mileage from a news release and reach buyers directly.

    I think the smartest strategy is to blend the two: distribute to media and also build up your own audience and post online. Today everyone’s a content creator–whether they blog, tweet, podcast or just have an influential following on social networks. And smartly using the two together (media and direct channels) is clearly a win-win.

    So I definitely agree, press/news release = NOT dead at all!

  7. Anthony, you are right. I believe it’s an art to be able to tell your client what is and isn’t newsworthy – in such a way to not offend, but is necessary. If not, as you say, you then have to defend poor pick-up of the release; even worse, alienating the journalist(s) by wasting their time.

  8. Sherry, let’s go with the quotes were too good to pass up! 😉

  9. Kelly, I agree that a blend of traditional and social media as well as social networking is the best approach for many clients. I follow David Meerman Scott on Twitter and have read some of his blog posts but have not read the book. Thanks for the tip – I’ll have to check it out!

  10. kc govens says:

    i wrote a press release last year however i did not know what i was doing so this year after learning a little bit more i will be writing a new press release soon.

    Yes i do think it is helpful and is a big part of promoting your business.

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