The value of press releases has been a topic for debate for a few years now, and we heard it discussed recently on a PRSA Google+ Hangout with several top Los Angeles tech reporters. That inspired us to give our answer: we contend the press release is not dead! Coincidentally, so did all of the LA reporters on the Google+ Hangout.
Here are three reasons why the press release is still a knockout tool in public relations –
1) Helps reporters fact check: Whether or not a reporter interviews a source, they still rely on press releases for the important details. Several of the reporters at the PRSA Google+ Hangout said they use press releases for fact checking. Releases provide pertinent details such as dates, properly attributed quotes, features, pricing and availability in one quick, accessible resource. Is the press release dead? “Absolutely not,” said Natalie Jarvey, tech writer for the Hollywood Reporter. The details are especially important for time sensitive news. “[The press release] has all the information you need,” says Ben Kuo, of SocalTech.com.
Pro tip: Make sure your release has those key data points. Hard facts, quantifiable numbers, and real data is important to give your press release life.
2) Provides SEO and general visibility: Your press release can increase search engine optimization (SEO) and help your company be seen by current customers, potential customers, and the media. Thanks to Internet distribution, these key audiences can see your press release on RSS feeds and news portals, and be inspired to give you a call. We regularly get calls from reporters who saw a client’s latest press release and wanted more information.
Pro tip: Use professional newswires for the best distribution online, know the key times to release news for optimum visibility, and always do custom pitches for coverage.
3) Builds your content marketing toolkit: To continue to rank well in search engines, websites and blogs need regular updates with fresh content. Updating your website’s News section with the latest press release is a great way to keep it refreshed. The same goes for your blog. And press releases really get nine lives when they’re used as posts on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
Pro tip: Make sure when updating your website or blog with a press release that you use a platform that can be easily read by search engines. Some methods are easier than others.
The press release IS learning to share: Those are several reasons why the press release is still alive. But it is evolving, as are other news-dissemination tools. The press release is no longer the only viable platform for public disclosure. In March 2013, the US Securities and Exchange Commission announced that Facebook and Twitter were considered valid for corporate disclosures. Some companies strictly use their blog as the place to share company news.
The important thing to remember is the press release tells your story, and it has to be legitimate news backed by real facts. There are still people out there who wrongly believe press releases can use “spin” to make something out of nothing. That is not the case! Sometimes, a press release is just not the right option. For example, if someone important said something nice about your company? Great – put it on social media. Or your age-old software got its 15th update? Unless it’s a major change, put it on your blog and send the update to specific audiences. Your latest news may be best suited for another tactic.
We see great value in press releases and were so pleased to hear several reporters agree with us. We encourage our clients to use press releases to share newsworthy information, and we’re always happy to provide guidance on what is, or isn’t, appropriate for a press release.
Long live the press release!
This blog was contributed by Lexy Haynes,Director of Client Services at Clearpoint Agency.