If you’re working in public relations, or even if you simply follow companies out of personal or professional interest, you understand the press release — an announcement prepared in a semi-journalistic format for use by media. But in our business the role of the press release is up for debate. Journalists are finding less value in press releases with only 3% saying they heavily rely on the document for their writing. Plenty of companies are opting to use social media to share company news instead of the classic release. Yet a press release can still offer benefits. Here’s why.
It tells the story the way you want to
A press release is useful for many things beyond large company announcements. For example, working with B2B tech companies, we often push different forms of data to journalists to encourage coverage. Of course we can offer data alone, but by sharing it in press release format, we shape the story and allow room for the client to offer their commentary through quotes in the release. It helps PR professionals allow greater context for the story and helps the journalist by painting a clear picture of what the data or news means to a given company or industry.
Quality writing rises to the top
One reason the press release has a bad reputation is that it’s often drafted by a PR agency or internal officer but touched by many hands along the way, from marketing to legal counsel. As a result, some releases are stuffed with jargon and confusing language and read as if written by committee. Any communication will be far more effective if written clearly and concisely with the key news in the lead. Executive quotes should add to the story rather than offer meaningless puffery.
Press releases can drive search
All companies seek ways to improve their website’s search rankings, and press releases are a good resource for doing that. A release shouldn’t be distributed strictly for SEO purposes, but it should be a consideration. Apart from being truly newsworthy and well written, they should be written with keywords in mind to maximize the search value. When a release is distributed through a paid service, it runs in hundreds of online outlets and will typically enjoy a temporary SEO bump.
Releases work with branded content
Distributing a press release is another way to begin a conversation. not only with the media, but with the general public, depending on context. It opens doors for new forms of content to cover the same subject — like blog posts, white papers, webinars, and social media posts. For example, a company can distribute a press release for a new product, followed by a series of blog posts that detail specs or testimonials. Additionally the company can host a webinar with industry professionals for an even deeper dive into the product and use the best segments in a social campaign. These forms of content can be created on the heels of a successful press release to reinforce the organization’s message and help tell a broader story of success, growth, or maybe corporate values.
It can build credibility
Not only does the press release do its job of spreading news about company activity, but it adds credibility. A company can easily spread news and announcements through social channels, but a series of tweets and LinkedIn posts won’t always clearly communicate the message at hand. By compiling into a press release, any announcement big or small is given a professional look, builds credibility for the company within their respective industry and adds to the company’s growing footprint of progress.
An announcement can hook in journalists
If news is being put into a press release, odds are it has enough significance to warrant a notable piece of editorial to be published alongside. For PR professionals, adding a portion of the release to the pitch can add just enough beef to hook in the right journalist. When the news is offered on an embargo or exclusive basis, a journalist is more inclined to check out the full release, which in turn leads to a better chance of receiving coverage on the announcement.
Releases burnish a company’s press page
A company’s website is the starting point for many journalists, so a proper press page with press releases that document recent milestones is very useful. A robust and informative press page can help close the deal for prospects and adds legitimacy for recruiting new talent for nearly any company.