Why is it that when people want to convince you that what they offer is something new and cool, they feel like they have to convince you that what we had before is now dead. We’ve seen this recently in the PR business with the venerable press release.
Ad Age magazine gave us the news in 2010 that the industry’s traditional communications document was dead. It was Twitter that finally killed it off, that publication told us. Forbes told us the same thing a year later.
They were both wrong.
In truth, I know many journalists that use Twitter to track down news and I follow some that use the tool to share stories well, as well. But they still get press releases every day and publish the news these documents carry. We’re not the only ones who know this fact, of course, but it doesn’t help our cause that most of those crying out to save the press release make their living by distributing them.
Social media is great and my team and I use its tools daily and the various sites to distribute news and information. But these tools haven’t taken the place of the press release. They’ve made it a more powerful tool, if you know how to use it. Here are three reasons you shouldn’t mothball this tool just yet.
1) If you’re pitching a story to a journalist, the reporter is going to ask you for a copy of the release. As a former trade journalist, I can tell you that it’s just so much easier if you have the correct spellings of the executives’ names, the company headquarters, the boilerplate and the specifics of the story all in one place before you start writing.
2) You’re going to want to put your release on your website and the discipline of the press release format will keep your story tight. If you’re optimizing your releases, as you should be, this will drive the traffic you want to your website.
3) Regularly sending releases to journalists will, over time, burn your brand into their minds and may, if the releases are well written, establish your executives as good sources for future stories, whether or not the press release gets printed. In addition, press releases can be strung together to create an ongoing narrative that will eventually get the attention of the reporters you target.
Press releases may not be the stories that ultimately convince prospects to become customers and reporters who have never written about you to start following your company, but they are the signposts along that road. They are important tools and in the right hands, formidable weapons for advancing your company and brands.