Do you really need to send that press release?

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Press releases have traditionally been the “go-to” format to broadcast corporate news to the world. In fact, in some countries, they remain the preferred way of interaction with the media.

After all, a press release is a piece where you can scatter all your key messages, your CEO’s name (and many virtues), and even the very creative copy your marketing department came up with to describe your latest product. 

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But, in an information-overloaded world, a well-crafted press release, cleared by your manager, approved by marketing, and blessed by Legal is the equivalent of making a lot of money playing Monopoly: a gratifying yet meaningless achievement.

If you add up all the time and talent involved in writing, checking, waiting for clearance, proofreading, sending, and following up, the press release turns out to be a considerably expensive product.

And if you think that every journalist receives dozens of them every day, and very few get published, the press release has to be one of the formats with the lowest return of investment in the entire communication business. 

Thankfully, you have a ton of other options: a tweet by your CEO, a short video, an infographic, even a phone call, a text, or a WhatsApp message to a few of your closest allies in the media could be way more effective.

But, if you still have to send that press release, make absolutely sure that:

  • It’s newsworthy. It has to be a real breakthrough in your industry. Last quarter’s results are only relevant if you are Apple, McDonald’s, or the lab that found a cure for COVID-19.
  • It’s relevant. A tech blog or a food influencer won’t bother with your press release if you are in the fashion industry. 
  • It’s tailored to your audience. In the previous example, the press release you send to the tech blogger should not be the same you send to the food influencer. Find the appropriate angle for each outlet. 
  • It’s not spam. A constant bombing of information is a guaranteed non-stop ticket to the trash bin. 
  • It’s specific. More than five paragraphs and you are condemned to oblivion. Make it about one thing and one thing only. Include your contact information, just in case, and some relevant links, but keep it short. 

What do you think? Is the press release a thing of the past? Which formats are you using instead of a press release? Let me know in the comments. 

Note: a group of international communications professionals, who also happen to be my friends, contributed to this article. They wish to remain unnamed, so in these pages I will refer to them as “The Engines”. Stay tuned for more communications stuff.

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