Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The press release isn't dead yet

I'm sure that Heather Whaling's column, "10 alternatives to sending a press release," caused many people to breathe a sigh of relief. For whatever reason, non-publicists are often intimidated by press releases. I sometimes get the impression in my workshops that people would rather give a speech than write a press release. For those who don't like them, you'll find a couple of different options on Heather's list that are a good fit for your communication style and ability, so give it a read.

I'd like to take her column a step further and offer reasons why you still want to use press releases, though. There's a lot of chatter about whether these tools are still effective now that we've got Twitter, Facebook pages, websites, and so many other ways to get our information in front of our target audiences. They are. And here are five reasons why:
  1. A well-written press release will still get used. This is especially true when you're sending it to weekly newspapers, smaller dailies, trade magazines, e-zines, and other outlets that are looking for the information you're offering because it's relevant or important to their readers, viewers, etc. And by "well-written," I don't mean award-winning. Just get to the point quickly and include the facts. (If you're an author writing a book announcement press release, read my tips on how to do that. If you want a fill-in-the-blanks template, you might like this resource.)
  2. A distributed press release is an aggressive alternative to the more passive options on Heather's list. Oh yeah, sure, you can put a YouTube video up there or write a blog posting about whatever you've got going on, but people -- including journalists -- have to come looking for it. When you send a press release, you're shouting, "Hey! Look at me!" (And oh-by-the-way, make sure that any press release service you use actually sends the thing out. Some of the free sites don't -- your release only sits on their site waiting to be found.)
  3. When your press release gets picked up, you're reaching people who aren't on your e-newsletter list or missed out on your blog tour interviews, etc. You're expanding your audience and building your business.
  4. A press release posted in your website's press room is a two-fer: (1) It helps search engines find your site and all your organization has to offer while (b) it provides journalists searching for information about your topic with helpful or relevant content presented in a format that works for them.
  5. When you become known as someone who provides good information in press releases, you get added to journalists' contact databases. They'll start calling you for interviews without you reaching out to them because they trust and respect you. And that's when your publicity program shifts to automatic pilot.
Why do you think press releases are still effective?

No comments: