Companies have often scorned press releases. In recent years, as social media has taken center stage, the decibel for their abolition has definitely grown louder. Popular grumbles we’ve heard include:
Let’s start with the last question first: readership.
The purpose of most press releases is to condense the facts and give critical takeaways for the media to digest. The trick is making it attractive enough for journalists to report on or to include in an article.
Press releases can also act as official announcements, which may or may not be covered by the media, as well as being reference material for employees, prospective employees, investors and potential investors, customers and prospective customers, and other stakeholders.
In today’s digital-led and social media-paced world, press releases do matter -- a lot. Many journalists track social feeds and stalk company discussions to get new angles on a beat. But they still rely on press releases to sieve through the facts and understand a company’s moves.
In fact, the purpose of press releases has actually evolved, not diminished. While it is no longer the only official voice of a company -- there are now plenty of channels for that, both formal and informal -- it does offer the facts in a manner that journalists can quickly read, digest, and understand.
Lastly, press releases are essential for search engine optimization, which is often overlooked. It allows investors, customers, and even employees to learn about the company when doing a keyword search.
So why is your press release not garnering media love?
Here are four reasons why a press release may not be driving results:
Wrong intent: Many communications professionals are also involved in social media marketing (SMM) and online brand awareness. It’s natural to see the low traction rate of a press release and demote it as useless. Yet press releases are not designed for maximum reach. Think of it as precision marketing for a very cynical audience (the media), while your SMM and online marketing efforts are more like mass marketing.
Fluff-heavy: Style matters for press releases. There’s a reason they follow a restrictive style meant to convey key facts in the most effective way. Today’s ever-busy journalists have an ultra-low tolerance for sales and marketing fluff, which is why press releases shouldn’t be written as blogs (although many companies insist they should be).
Unfair expectations: Press releases are not designed to sell a company; marketing materials are. So, when press releases attract low click-throughs or pageviews, companies often see more value in marketing efforts like their corporate blogs and social media feeds. Instead, companies should see press releases as a completely separate effort.
Poorly written: It may sound obvious, but the internet is littered with poorly written press releases. It’s important to find the non-promotional angle of a press release, emphasizing why the news is important and beneficial for the end reader of what the journalist will write as a result of the release.
The influence of press releases has actually gotten stronger, as many journalists look for facts and truths amid fake news (interesting point: you seldom see fake news as press releases).
Instead of predicting its demise or looking for other alternatives, invest in writing press releases that rock!