Years ago, when I was just getting started in the writing/journalism/public relations world, we used to joke that press releases went directly into the “round file” (trash can.) In reality, press releases actually get a bad rap. In our modern world of online social media, web sites, and constant competition for fresh news and content, press releases are actually a GREAT way to get the news out about your event, activity, product or company news.
The average person has more access now to the “public pool” of knowledge and media than ever before'”even with corporate owned mass media. With web sites, blogs, Facebook and other online publications, it can be extremely easy to get one’s message out in front of the market. This is NOT an excuse for schlocky public relations, however. Even small businesses need to be conscientious of being on message and putting forward a good professional image. The press release is a good, solid way of spreading the message with limited expense.
Many web sites, blogs, and community sites are constantly looking for updated information, news and copy. Send relevant press releases to these venues and you may find that the entire text gets printed with little change. In addition to the more “traditional” outlets for a press release (newspaper or print media, radio and television), consider these more current possibilities. Share press releases with colleagues and others via email or other electronic method in order to make it easy for others to forward the information on to their networks.
Press releases should contain relevant contact information including web sites, email addresses, phone numbers, etc. If no one in the company knows how to write a compelling press release, consider hiring a professional or doing some research as to how to tell stories about your company activities, products, changes or other potentially news-worthy happenings. A press release needs to be interesting and timely. Consider links to other online information to increase the potential traffic. You can also send a press release as a “teaser” with an offer to provide an interview, samples or other valuable information that the other party needs or wants.
The press release is NOT dead, but it needs to be current, interesting and formatted in a way that is easy to use for online outlets.