There are so many media channels to consider nowadays – all asking to be pitched to differently when you approach them. Bloggers, editors and writers want an outline pitch on email, demonstrating that you’ve read their title, know their content and follow their column, so the question has been asked – is the press release dead?
I must admit I find that this question is mainly bandied around by digital experts, and also those selling their online press office services (convenient perhaps?)
A brief history lesson
Originally the press release was written as a form of company announcement. Over time it was created not only a mini news story but a marketer’s wet dream which consisted of superlatives (the word ‘unique’ should be banned) and hard sell, totally crafted for the company’s ego and not the writer’s use or reader relevance.
The press release was either sent in the post, blasted out by fax (showing my age here!), and then by email with no personalised message or pitch to precede it and often to the wrong title or writer (that’s a whoooole other blog that it deserves its own blog).
So is it worth it?
Now with media requesting, and quite rightly, for a more personalised and tailored approach, clients are asking questions like what is a press release, what is its purpose and do we really need one?
In a word, absolutely! However the focus of its use needs to change; it’s not meant to be what the marketer wants to say but instead a provision of facts – why the company, product or service is of relevance to the customer or industry, what news it has to offer its customers.
I wrote this blog not because it might be of interest to someone trying to understand PR but to both PR’s still writing press releases which annoy journalists (yes we still need to provide relevant content), and digital agencies (yes you naughty folk) who sound the death knell of a very useful PR tactic a little too easily without understanding how useful it is to provide within a personalised pitch.
There is a craft in how news is conveyed in the interest of its reader i.e. the writer and whilst a good PR will know that, it’s not a mystical and unattainable craft! There are plenty of free online guides on how to write a press release*, but the information should be written to help ensure the writer has a) all the facts to hand, and b) can understand the relevance of what you’re trying promote to make it useful for their quickly produced features.
*There are some great free online PR guides, in particular three people on my radar who offers services into handling your own PR include:
Janet Murray – runs online training on how to write releases, provides helpful advice via blogs and I’m particularly enjoying her podcasts.
Becs Miller – runs the Publicity Programme for those with people-centred, holistic or creative small businesses.
Melissa Collier Talgo – helping solopreneurs with their marketing and PR through coaching and courses.