Why Press Releases Need More to Stand Out in a Content Crowd

Despite suggestions that press releases have died, they remain a common practice, much to the annoyance of some marketers. With the rise of digital distribution services, it’s become easy to share them quickly and on a massive scale – giving rise to lazy promotional efforts and failed connections.

Press releases can no longer be considered a standalone promotional tool; they need more context and must have outstanding surrounding content to truly be noticed.

What is a modern press release?

Press releases used to be the main conduit for transmitting information about news stories to journalists. In recent years, however, they became an easy link- and content-building tool for companies short on media relationships and promotion time (read: they became a scalable way to promote a brand). This means that quality often suffered for the sake of sheer quantity.

But what exactly do we need them for these days?

  • Announcing newsworthy hires and acquisitions
  • Due diligence for stock holders information
  • Sharing specs, numbers and other details that journalists will need to complete a story

“Newsworthy” is a key word here – a new product release doesn’t always require a press release, and a huge merger isn’t always best covered with a simple blog post or a tweet. Use your professional discretion when it comes to determining what is and isn’t newsworthy.

The press release is a tool, not a strategy

Let’s get one thing straight: submitting a press release to a distribution site is not a complete PR strategy. In fact, it’s not a strategy at all – it’s a supplement to what you should be working on: sharing stories and building human relationships.

You wouldn’t walk up to someone just to hand them a business card and walk away, would you? You would introduce yourself, get to know that person, tell him your story and then give him information once he understands your relevance to him.

Press releases work the same way: Get in touch with a journalist (that you’ve hand-picked for this pitch – none of that blind list-building) and tell her briefly what you have, why she should be interested, and how to she can get more information. Then and only then should you present the link to the press release. Or, wait until after the journalist has asked to see more information and send it as an attachment, but only do so if she’s specifically asked for it – unsolicited attachments aren’t usually welcome in a crowded inbox.

Go above and beyond

Since we’re no longer limited to a page-long print press release, it’s time to give journalists and bloggers more options for receiving their content. Don’t confine yourself to sending media to a stark newsroom section of your website – send them something more to help them get a grasp on not only the essential facts, but the larger story as well.

What to send instead of or alongside a press release

Whatever you send, make sure it’s easily digestible, entertaining, informative and has at least one appropriate angle for whom you’re pitching it. The angle itself will go a long way in helping you gain coverage, and must be tweaked for each writer you’re pitching. Amp up your press release by sending it in other formats:

  • A video introducing a new high-profile employee or releasing an anticipated product
  • A blog post outlining the greater industry trends
  • An interactive tool or resource to compliment your release
  • Testimonials from users, experts or other media to help journalists find angles and pull quotes

Get social, but not with the press release

There’s a lot of advice that suggests you should share your press releases on social. If you’re scrolling through your Facebook NewsFeed, would you rather click through to read a bare-bones press release or go take a quiz to discover which animal meme your personality fits with the most?

Press releases aren’t necessarily “fun” content for social users, so be sure to repackage them before sharing them with your social audience. It boils down to sharing information in a way that you yourself would be excited to receive.

At the end of the day, there’s not one element that creates a strategy – make sure you’re using press releases as a supplement to your efforts, but don’t fall into the trap of using it as a standalone tactic. For a checklist on what content to promote as well as how and why to promote it, download our Content Promotion and Distribution Cheat Sheet.

Image credit: Avi Schwab

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