The Press Release is Alive and Well!

By Donna St. Jean Conti

… Just remember, “What’s in it for the Audience?”

Perhaps it’s selective perception, but lately I have noticed quite a few articles on the death of the press release, which I find to be premature, wrong in fact. It reminds me of a conversation I had ten years ago, when, in talking with a recruiter, I was told that public relations (PR) is dead. That was incorrect then, and those saying the press release is now dead are equally incorrect. The press release continues to be an essential communications tool, one of many, especially in business-to-business public relations. As stated in one of my previous blog posts, it’s all about the audience, and making sure you include newsworthy content.

What is a Press Release? 

Before delving into the myth that press releases are dead, a standard definition of what one is should be established. According to this article by Prowly Magazine, a press release is a “written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something ostensibly newsworthy.”[1] In essence, a press release is a method of spreading news of progress and development. The ways in which this announcement is communicated vary based on preference but include mediums such as e-mail, specialized newspapers, and television to name a few.[2] Although some of these forms of communication may seem archaic and outdated, the effectiveness of a press release is still strong.

Why Are Press Releases Still Relevant?

Although press releases may seem obsolete, they are still powerfully effective forms of communicating in public relations. This concept is concisely explained in this article by Agility PR Solutions when it states, “…despite its basic nature, press releases continue to give PR practitioners the opportunity to tell the story their way, present the facts, distribute news quickly and cost-effectively, secure media coverage and publicity, and expose the brand and message to a wider audience.”[3] Indeed, the point of a press release is to not only gain recognition in a respective field, but also to attract potential publishers to further exposure. Press releases also act as a newsletter of sorts to show stakeholders and the wider public that a company is still or about to be prominent.[4] Admittedly, press releases are old and rather simple in nature, but they can effectively achieve the goal of increasing exposure. When is it not crucial for a brand to gain or further their exposure? In the age of the internet and increasingly shorter attention spans, staying relevant is and continues to be a top priority. With that being said, how does one write a press release?

The Basics of an Effective Press Release

Now that the notion of press releases being dead has been put to rest, we can go into the details of what makes one good. The ways in which you write one can vary depending on your intended audience and goals. For this reason, a Google search on how to write one will bring back different results, making a general blanket statement on how to write one a moot point. Regardless, there are some basic principles with regard to the length and timing of distributing a press release. The mentioned article by Prowly Magazine suggests that you keep things simple and to the point, and that you target relevant outlets.[5] This suggestion might seem commonsensical, but the fact is that over half of journalists continue to be inundated with irrelevant information that is not in their area of work nor of their interest.[6] This underscores the need to ask yourself, “What’s in it for the audience?” then properly target your press release – for the ideal audience. As for what the length should be and when to distribute your press release, Agility PR Solutions provides data and suggests that you keep it an average time of either 15 or 45 minutes, as these are the lengths that are most likely to be seen.[7] Moreover, the most popular times of day are 8 A.M. ET with the most popular days being Tuesdays and Fridays.[8] Assuming what you have to say is newsworthy, these days and times are optimal in terms of being seen and read or watched.

Conclusion

After looking into what a press release actually is, how they continue to be effective tools in communicating information and gaining exposure, and how studies are still being conducted to optimize their potency, it really is a wonder to me as to why articles are being written about their being dead. Sure, they may be an old form of communication, but their relevancy shows no signs of being in decline. So long as your information is relevant, targeted and distributed at a time in which it can be seen, there really is no effective alternative to a press release.

 

 

[1] Prowly Magazine, “Press Release Definition — What Exactly is a Press Release, Anyway?,” https://prowly.com/magazine/what-is-a-press-release-definition/.
[2] Prowly Magazine, “Press Release Definition — What Exactly is a Press Release, Anyway?,” https://prowly.com/magazine/what-is-a-press-release-definition/.
[3] Agility PR Solutions, “How To Write a Press Release for Any Occasion (With Templates and Examples),” https://www.agilitypr.com/how-to-write-press-release/?utm_campaign=Agility%20-%20Email%20%20Nurture&utm_source=hs_automation&utm_medium=email&utm_content=68316719&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-92ZlvAwyytOe13rj6_ZOWCEBiy5_SD-Nz1ay40v-dVw_dOe1mpzWJ4s6EvGtbPTebNd6-CCKPe1o7RNoULpx-RTaonpiqeks5VlYe5M0LNPUw4UFc&_hsmi=68316719.
[4] Agility PR Solutions, “How To Write a Press Release for Any Occasion (With Templates and Examples),” https://www.agilitypr.com/how-to-write-press-release/?utm_campaign=Agility%20-%20Email%20%20Nurture&utm_source=hs_automation&utm_medium=email&utm_content=68316719&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-92ZlvAwyytOe13rj6_ZOWCEBiy5_SD-Nz1ay40v-dVw_dOe1mpzWJ4s6EvGtbPTebNd6-CCKPe1o7RNoULpx-RTaonpiqeks5VlYe5M0LNPUw4UFc&_hsmi=68316719.
[5] Prowly Magazine, “Press Release Definition — What Exactly is a Press Release, Anyway?,” https://prowly.com/magazine/what-is-a-press-release-definition/.
[6] Prowly Magazine, “Press Release Definition — What Exactly is a Press Release, Anyway?,” https://prowly.com/magazine/what-is-a-press-release-definition/.
[7] Agility PR Solutions, “Press Release Strategies for 2020—New Study Examines Key Factors that Increase Success,” https://www.agilitypr.com/pr-news/public-relations/press-release-strategies-for-2020-new-study-examines-key-factors-that-increase-success/.
[8] Agility PR Solutions, “Press Release Strategies for 2020—New Study Examines Key Factors that Increase Success,” https://www.agilitypr.com/pr-news/public-relations/press-release-strategies-for-2020-new-study-examines-key-factors-that-increase-success/.

 

Donna St. Jean Conti is president of St. Conti Communications, an award-winning, full-service, marketing communications agency specializing in public relations, social media, and writing support. For more information about our agency and how we can help you promote your products or services, contact Donna St. Jean Conti, APR, at dconti (at) stconticommunications.com.

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