Of course, you’re going to send out a press release whenever you have BIG NEWS. That’s just good PR, isn’t it? After all, “PR” stands for “press release,” doesn’t it?
Actually, no. And, no.
PR stands for public relations, and press releases are only one small part of the PR effort that is responsible for giving companies and brands valuable third-party credibility. However, instead of being one of many tools in the PR toolbox, many companies use them as the “catch all” for their communications efforts. But what they don’t realize is that when press releases are not used correctly—and in concert with a broader PR strategy—they end up doing more harm than good for your business.
Back to Basics: How to Use a Press Release
A press release is traditionally issued whenever a company deems that they have something newsworthy to share—a major AUM milestone, new hire, significant business advancement, community engagement, etc.
Press releases are usually utilized to serve two major goals: engage the media on what’s going on with your business and improve SEO when your prospects and customers are searching for your services.
Historically, press releases were the main way companies communicated all of their news to the world. However, as the media landscape has become predominantly digital and filled with more information than can be consumed, press releases are no longer the single most effective way to secure coverage.
To be clear: big announcements—rebrands, raising capital, executive hires, etc.—still deserve an official press release that is distributed over a wire service. But when companies start using a press release for every piece of news they have, it limits the impact of each announcement. Over time, reporters may actually begin to ignore your press releases if they don’t include truly newsworthy information. This is because reporters are looking for a unique angle within your announcement directly relevant to its readers: your news coupled with your contrarian take on the economy, anecdotes or examples, or how a hot new service offering caters to market demand. And a press release is not the right vehicle to deliver these insights.
How to Get Your Press Release Attention
But if your news is significant enough for a press release, take a look at a few important tips for how to use the press release within a broader communications distribution strategy.
- Give your News Context: The press release will include the cold hard facts of your announcement, but your efforts shouldn’t end there. It's important to add layers when pitching your news to reporters in order to increase its relevance. For example, the fact that a firm reached $1 billion in AUM is incredibly impressive but not terribly compelling. But we can add interesting context, such as: “The growth of the firm was driven by its service to local public educators. Through its work with teachers, the firm has discovered that teachers are rolling over 403(b) funds an average of three years earlier than normal because of the low interest rate environment.” I’ve made up the firm and the statistic, but you see the point.
- Provide Reporters with a Story: Once you take your news and insert the kind of context from Tip No. 1 above to illustrate to the reporter why your news and insight is important to their readers, take the next step and provide anecdotes and other examples to bring your insight to life. This well-rounded story not only helps crystalize why your news is important to the broader industry, but it helps the reporter see a larger picture—beyond your immediate news— that is good for both you and their readers.
- Amplify Your News Across Multiple Channels: In addition to announcing proprietary research findings or other big news in a press release, splash the high points across infographics, social media posts and more. You can post a blog, write an article, create a video or a manager interview, release a podcast episode, text, tweet and anything else you can imagine. All of these are far more engaging than a formal release and will help amplify your message across other verticals.
If you work with a qualified PR firm, their expert guidance can help you design a communication strategy that will include press releases, but so much more. They can also help you add a “New Skool” spin to your announcements—stamping them with your unique brand personality, expertise and insights.
Just remember: Your goal isn’t just to make news. It’s to make your news meaningful.
Megan Carpenter is co-founder and CEO at FiComm Partners