Is there still a place for the press release in this digitally driven world?

media, communications, press release, media training, journalist

I know this has been covered in many forums in recent years, and I’m sure this won’t be the last, but I can’t agree with anyone who says the press release is not relevant in this fast-paced, digitally driven world.

Whilst it may be true that the press release is no longer the top method of choice for communications professionals, when done right it remains a very effective way of telling a story.

For many years the press release was the cornerstone of any communications plan and would be used at almost every opportunity, often without much thought behind it. They were sent to as many journalists and news desks as possible with the hope that there would be the reward of at least one publication running the story.

Admittedly, as I was starting out my own career in communications, this was a method I also used. However, as I’ve gained more experience and understanding of the various channels we have at our fingertips, I now make sure that they are just one part of a bigger plan.

A key part of a bigger plan

A press release should not be used in isolation. To make sure your story is told as far and wide as possible you need to consider what other communications channels should be used to compliment your messages.

Using the 5Ws and 1H method, which Claire covered in her blog in November, you will ensure that there is a purpose behind what you are trying to say, that you are speaking to the right audience and doing so in the right way and at the right time.

Be targeted

Sending a generic press release to a wide-range of news desks has never been the most effective way of getting your story published. Depending on your industry or the story you are telling, it is likely that there will be specific mainstream media, specialist trade journals and other publications targeted to your key audience.

Once you’ve identified the publications or media you want to target, you then need to consider how you can make the journalist’s job as easy as possible. If they have an online or social media presence, consider creating a video to issue alongside your release.

An effective way to engage a journalist is by offering an interview with an industry specialist or a well-known spokesperson. Doing so gives the journalist the opportunity to put their own stamp on the story with little effort.

A trusted source

In a world of ‘fake news’ it has never been more important for individuals and companies to be able to build trust with their audience and keep them engaged in what they are saying.

According to a 2018 global ‘state of media’ report by Cision, the press release was highlighted as the number one most valuable source of content and also the most trusted brand source.

Whilst you have to take all reports like this with a pinch of salt, it does provide us with a certain level of comfort that the press release still has a big part to play in the world of communications.

Adding value

This isn’t just specific to writing a press release. Whatever form of communications you are creating, it should give the audience some added value. You might think you have a really great story to tell, but you need to ask yourself what is the person reading this going to get out of it and what do they actually want to know?

Is it a life lesson, is it a call to action, is it informing them of something they have an interest in?

Whatever it is, you need to ensure that your audience is taking something away.

So, whilst the press release may not be the send-to-all method of communicating it used to be, by following these simple tips it can still be one of the best and most trustworthy ways of telling your story.

ANDREW JOHNSON
g6 communications,  Associate Consultant