Uses and abuses of the press release

Today so far has been a day of prospecting… Well, researching and adding to my target list of Manchester companies who could use some b2b and tech PR services.

Following many visits to many websites and their ‘media centres’, I conclude that there must be at least 101 uses for a press release, other than the one they were originally intended for – informing key media influencers about your genuinely interesting new developments in a way that they can digest and report on.

Of course, the rise of social media and digital PR has changed and extended the role of the press release. It was considered the ‘objet d’art’ of PR when I was a lad (double line spacing and big margins for editing, prominent logo, no more than two sides, stapled at the top left… those rules were beaten into us!) So, granted, there are now more genuine and varied uses than there were in the non digital PR age.

What I dont like is how so many companies churn out pseudo press releases, often with great stories, then use them for nothing more than web page content. Do they not realise there are journalists out there interested in the very things they are producing to sit on their websites? You wouldn’t write DM copy and offer it as thought leadership now, would you?

So, here are my thoughts on genuine uses and abuses of the press release today. If you’re not using all the uses you should be. If you’re guilty of the abuses, just stop!

Top 10 uses of the modern press release:

1. Distributing new developments to journalists

2. Actively pitching and securing interviews with target media

3. Boosting your company in keyword searches through PR

4. Informing online influencers (bloggers) of your company developments

5. Alerting industry analysts to your new developments

6. A great basis for employee and customer newsletters

7. Providing multi / rich media content for stories that warrant it

8. A basis for corporate blogging content

9. Content that your wider PR and marketing team (all employees) can share on social networks

10. Background on your company when pitching CEO profiles or similar

Top 10 abuses of the modern press release:

1. Filling your website with ‘snooze’ rather than news

2. Making tired content sound new for the media when it is not

3. Telling influencers about things that matter to you, not them

4. Re-badging your latest in-depth article to try and sell it to the media

5. PRs creating news to keep themselves busy on behalf of clients

6. Putting genuinely interesting stories on your website with no contact information and not proactively giving those stories to the media

7. Thinking PR = Press Release. It does not. Press Release = one element of PR

8. Writing things for marketing purposes and then telling your PR agency to issue them ‘as a press release’ when it is not

9. Making journalists really annoyed by not targeting your content to their story requirements

10. Thinking you do PR because you issue news releases to the investor community, but ignore all other external stakeholders to your business

The press release may only be one aspect of well conceived PR but its usefulness is increasing. Let’s make sure we use it widely, but wisely.

Please comment too – let me know about other uses and abuses.

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