Beyond the Press Release: The PR Tool Box
A lot of a PR professional’s time is spent writing press releases for clients. Maybe too much time.
I assume clients often want press releases because they see them as being tangible and something that can not only live on their website but also pushed out across the wire. Sometimes clients (not any of mine, I can assure you of that) consider a press release pick up to be a huge win for them in the PR department.
As I’ve written before, press releases have their purpose and should not be discarded or just tossed aside. But, I think it’s also important for clients – and their PR team – to consider alternative options for sharing their news with the world.
Enter the media pitch, media advisory, and blog post.
Media advisories and blog posts can both be incredibly beneficial to telling your story to the outside world and should not be overlooked or considered less important than a press release.
While there are always exceptions to every rule, here are my general rules of thumb for when to use each of these tools in your PR toolbox for telling your story.
The press release is great for getting out hard facts and figures. Examples would be new product and/or partnership announcements, big contract wins, company financial information (especially for publically-traded companies where this is considered material information), new employee hires and other big company news. Equally important to the content in your press release is how you distribute the news. All too often people just want to put their release “across the wire” and call it a day. Depending on the type and amount of pick up you are hoping for this may be ok – but be warned, not all wire services give the same bang for your buck. This brings us to the media pitch.
Media pitching is another huge part of any PR professional’s job. Any agency or PR pro who just throws a release up on the wire and does nothing more with it is not someone you want to be working with. In order to get the most out of your press release you want to make sure it’s getting directly into the hands of those reporters who matter most. This is really what PR professionals do best – identify the right reporter at the right publication for your story, craft an engaging and interesting media pitch, and hook them with your news. It should be noted that while press releases should be supported with pitches, a press release is not required to create a media pitch.
Media advisories are often, unfortunately, overlooked. While they are shorter and more succinct than a press release, they can often fill in when a press release is too much. What do I mean by that? Well, like wire distribution services, not all news is created equal and needs a formal press release. Have a big event or promotion coming up and your goal is to get the media to attend to cover it? That’s where a media advisory comes in. Media advisories lay out the facts: who, what, when, where and why. Simple and straightforward. Sometimes media advisories are simply better and more effective than full-fledged press releases.
Just as media advisories are often overlooked, so too are blog posts. In fact, as Katie pointed out recently, per Vocus’s State of Public Relations, only 35 percent of marketing and PR professionals rate their blog as an important tool for content or news distribution. This stat makes me unbelievably sad because I, while apparently in the minority, can’t express enough the power of your blog. The great thing about blog posts is that, because they are often editorial in nature, they can move beyond just the facts and include color commentary. Additionally, they provide an avenue for sharing company news when management may not see the value. Case in point: management only wants to put out press releases about contract wins but you have other important company news to share, like a personnel appointment or award that your organization may have won. Put it on your blog, share it on social media and even pitch it out to reporters. I would even argue that press releases could be broken down and turned in to a blog post – thereby maximizing the amount of exposure your news gets.
So what do you think? Will you reconsider your use of the press release, or, at least, consider other PR tactics when planning your next big announcement?