Are Press Releases Always the Answer?
August 24, 2022
To send or not to send, that is the question.
So often our new clients assume sending out a press release is the best and only way to garner media attention and coverage for their important news. If only it were that simple.
In many cases, press releases are exactly the wrong approach to take. One reason is that many journalists feel that once a story is announced to thousands of people via a press release distributed over one of those electronic wire services, it is no longer news. In other words, the widespread direct distribution of the release makes the news less newsworthy. "Why should I cover something if it's all over the Internet?" journalists frequently ask.
Journalists themselves agree that press releases aren't always the answer. In a recent survey of 3,890 journalists worldwide by Cision, a communications platform used by marketing public relations professionals and members of the media, just 37% cited press releases as being the most useful source for generating stories or story ideas.
Journalists often discount press releases because they typically are written for mass audiences (the lowest common denominator), are packed with self-serving language, and aren't targeted to the recipient journalist's audience.
Journalists get such a high volume of press releases that they consider many of them to be spam, aka junk mail.
According to the Cision study, "the vast majority of journalists (74%) won't tolerate 'being spammed with irrelevant pitches,' which is all the more reason to make sure pitches are targeting the right media. In fact, only 9% of journalists say the majority of the pitches they receive are relevant."
That's the argument against using one-size-fits-all press releases in media relations.
The Argument for Press Releases
Still, press releases can be valuable tools in a corporate or marketing PR arsenal. In many situations, distributing a release is the right and sometimes only choice to achieve a client's PR goals. For example, a press release can effectively:
- Fulfill legal disclosure requirements if a company is publicly traded and the news is material
- Generate buzz across the Internet
- Front-run and manage crisis communications
- Create useful marketing content to improve a company's organic SEO ranking by propagating the content across third-party sites, a company's website and other owned and shared media
Other Ways to Earn Media Coverage
There are multiple ways to secure media coverage without using a press release as collateral. Elements of a media relations campaign can include:
- Pitching one-on-one to specific reporters who cover the same or related topics
- Custom-tailoring the pitch to each reporter's audience
- Providing alternative background documents and raw source materials, including videos, research reports and case studies, that reporters can use as the basis of stories
Navigating the media — black box that it is — is a challenge. At CRELIX, we help our clients figure out which course is best for them on a case-by-case basis.