The Truth About Press Releases

We’ve all seen our share of cringe-worthy press releases that have no hope of being covered, yet PR pros continue to write and distribute them. It costs hundreds to distribute press releases to a news service. Not only this, but if the releases aren’t written in house, it costs hundreds more to hire a writer to pen the release. So, why do PR pros continue to spend money on releases no one is going to cover?

 

The fact is that many in the business are too accustomed to doing things the traditional way, Press releases are a tired, even lazy solution to telling stories. Yes, they’re still valuable, and many press releases can garner lots of attention. However, news saturation is at its peak, and what once was considered newsworthy is now considered irrelevant.

 

Newspaper headlines picture

Journalists receive hundreds of press releases per day in their email boxes, and most wind up in the trash.

Clients don’t always understand this, and often they believe that even the most trivial news about their company deserves coverage. This is when practitioners need to be honest with their clients and explain that not all business activities are newsworthy. Practitioners who promise coverage get into the most trouble in this scenario, because the client expects the news coverage. When they don’t get it, the client relationship begins to break down.

But wait. There’s more bad news about press releases. Journalists hate them. Some even claim they’ve never covered a single release sent to them by a PR company. Big name clients will always get coverage, no matter how trivial the news, but unless you represent the likes of Apple and Samsung, news coverage isn’t guaranteed.

 

The Difference Between Newsworthy and Shareworthy

How do you decide if your client’s activities are newsworthy? Do your research. Read the publications you’re interested in pitching and research the journalists and reporters you’re targeting. If the publications that best suit your client’s industry and activities don’t publish stories similar to those in your release, then your release isn’t newsworthy. For example, there may be three trade publications that are a perfect fit for your client, but if the publications never cover the stories you want to pitch, then you’re out of luck.

 

Blog posts are an inexpensive alternative to press releases that can be shared across social media.

Blog posts are an inexpensive alternative to press releases that can be shared across social media.

Of course you want to spread the news about your client’s activities, and you should. Your story may not be newsworthy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t shareworthy. Forget about press releases and get creative. Can’t get a reporter to cover the story? Do it yourself. Write a blog post about your client’s achievements on both your blog and your client’s blog, then share the post across social media.

To make the story even more sharable, you could turn the story into a video. This doesn’t need to be an expensive production. A brief, two-three minute video featuring your client sharing the news will suffice. The video can be posted on the company blog, YouTube and social media. Finally, newsletters are a great way to keep stakeholders, including employees, apprised of company news.

 

The 24-hour news cycle is as fast as it is vicious, and there’s little room for mediocrity. Stories that hold meaning for the rest of us may be invisible to journalists and reporters. Our job is to make those stories visible to the media. When we’re unsuccessful, our job is to create our own platforms and tell the stories ourselves.