Ok, I may be overdramatizing this a bit, but I’m no longer a believer that the press release is the primary way most companies can generate good, positive PR. The reason is simple – no one’s reading them anymore!
Here’s why: press releases used to work well when PR firms or in-house marketing folks would blast them to a set list of newspaper and magazine reporters as well as the assignment desks of various television news outlets. But those opportunities are fewer and farther between than at any time in recent history.
Anyone who hasn’t been under a rock over the past year has seen the very visible demise of traditional news organizations. The once high-flying Tribune Company (owners of the L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune, Superstation WGN and others) is still stuck in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, while other long-standing publications like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer are gone all together. Those that remain are struggling with a skeleton staff that are now holding down multiple roles and being pulled in so many directions that they have very little time to digest a 400-word announcement from yet another “leading provider of…[insert your industry here].”
Now that doesn’t mean that news outlets don’t want to hear about an organization’s recent achievements. Far from it – they need credible sources to help them with story ideas and developing topics. But companies need to announce such events in a much different way – online!
So before drafting another standard press release, try these three steps first:
• Website news posting – put your piece of relevant news on its own page within your Web site. This will service as foundation to drive journalists and other relevant parties to find out more about your organization and your latest accomplishments.
• Post your news on at least three social network systems – This may sound difficult at first, but trust me – it will take far less time and have far greater success once it’s set up. I’d recommend getting started by launching a Facebook and Twitter account in addition to your own blog. From there, link up with friends and business acquaintances as well as the reporters from media outlets that are using the same services (I guarantee that you’ll find some of them there!). Update your status/news on a regular basis and include a link to the news posting on your Web site. If done correctly, organizations will see much more activity than they ever did by just blasting the news out to media outlets.
• Get others to do the same – The more people who comment on your news through the same social network services, the more attention it gets, and the greater reach an organization will garner.
At its basic level, this is grass roots/word of mouth marketing – just in an online form. I’ve personally secured new clients through this tactic, and I have seen a significant increase in interest from reporters when I distribute announcements through social media platforms. I may still write the occasional press release for companies, but I’m spending far less time doing so, and figure the tactic will all but be dead in the very near future.
About the Blogger:
David Oates, APR, is the President of Stalwart Communications, (www.stalwartcom.com) a San Diego-based Pay-on-Performance marketing and public relations firm that charges its full fees only when its clients get press, awards and other marketing deliverables. He also launched the social media site, Pay-on-Performance (http://payonperformance.com), to engage business leaders in discussion on this revenue model. David can be reached at email@example.com.