Many companies think PR stands for press release. Here’s why that’s not a great way forward.
By Kate Carroll de Gutes, Vice President of Editorial & Content Strategy at Racepoint Global
It sounds exciting: our press release just went over the wire. But if you send 24 releases out in a year (not unusual for an engineering- or sales-driven organization), you could spend tens of thousands of dollars depending on the release’s length and distribution.
Unfortunately, this is not always the most effective approach to news distribution. Because not every action is newsworthy. Too often, sending out a press release is viewed as the only option because it is the only known option.
Here are three points to consider when deciding whether to issue a press release.
1. Take a disciplined approach to news distribution
There are other ways to distribute company news to gain the desired effects of greater awareness, understanding and enhanced relationships with key media targets. Evaluate your news value by asking few strategic questions.
The answers to these questions help you determine the best way forward for news distribution, media engagement, or a more integrated communication approach. This does not necessarily include issuing a press release via a newswire.
2. Press releases are transactional, media relationships strategic
Reliance on a newswire alone dilutes the opportunity for a professional relationship between communicators (in-house or agency), and media. Relying on news releases makes the process purely transactional.
But news delivered directly to a relevant journalist vastly improves the chances of coverage, especially more comprehensive coverage. It also establishes or reaffirms a route into your company when journalists are writing about a relevant topic and need additional content. Earned media coverage delivers an exponentially higher return on investment and an increase in share of voice than a press release picked up by a content crawler.
3. Consider a tiered approach to news
To get your team on board with a “not everything needs a press release” strategy, you must develop a tiered approach to news and stories.
Tier one news has high strategic value and proves how your company is achieving its business objectives. It establishes competitive or brand differentiation. For this type of news, consider sending a press release over the wire after doing proactive media outreach, including potential embargoed pre-briefings, spokesperson prep, and announcement support.
Tier two news has value within a key vertical or market. It demonstrates proof and momentum. You may issue a press release in select regions or use limited newswire distribution. You might also pitch and/or email key outlets and reporters in related markets and/or verticals depending on your story’s value.
Tier three news includes governance or update announcements and requires limited support. If you are issuing a release, do so only for compliance reasons and limit the distribution. (This is not required for privately-held companies.)
Timing your press releases
If you are going to issue a press release, research by Agility PR solutions suggests there are optimal times and windows for release distribution. Avoid Wednesdays, Fridays, and weekends. Thursday outperforms all days of the week for newswire distribution views. In addition, there are higher read rates for releases that cross the wire between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm (adjusted for local time).
By considering these three points, you’ll be on your way to a great news release and media relations strategy. You will improve your impact-to-effort ratio, discover outlets that report on the content you want to be covered, and reach the right audience for your company.