It’s hard to believe that traditional press releases still matter in the world of social media. After all, with thousands of followers sharing your announcement with all of their followers, word can travel pretty fast. But as important as a social media strategy is to your marketing and communication, there’s still a vital place for press releases. The strategy surrounding them has adapted to a digital world, so I asked my friend (and scuba diving partner) Larry Ross, founder and CEO of A. Larry Ross Communications in Dallas for his insight. Larry is a public relations expert and his successful relationships with A-List clients is amazing. Here’s what Larry shared with me:
Despite the drastic sea change in the practice of media and public relations as a result of digital technology, the Internet and the way journalists report and the public consumes the news, the press release (also referred to as a media release, news release or press statement) is not dead. Rather, it remains a valuable tool in an organization or ministry’s publicity arsenal and an essential component of any comprehensive public relations strategy, serving to prime the pump on a given story.
Just as a resume is a requisite foundational element for a prospective job applicant, a well-written press release provides initial and essential information about an individual, organization or initiative. Press releases have been used by PR pros for decades to inform, educate and motivate news media to cover an organization, event, product launch or idea.
Candidly, media representatives no longer exclusively rely on PR professionals to send a press release with information, as they can seek it themselves with a quick Google search or scan of social media platforms. But the press release still serves a very valuable purpose of sharing the overarching, 10,000-foot overview of key messages related to an organization’s mission, product, event or leadership.
Further, a press release can live on the Internet through an online newsroom, and is permanently searchable in databases so that media (and consumers) can easily find it as they seek out information. There is also an important search engine optimization (SEO) function to consider, particularly as key words trending in searches on related topics are embedded in the headline, exponentially increasing reach and impact.
However, issuing a press release by itself can’t carry the day, and any expectations that interview requests will immediately come flooding in after such a distribution are doomed to fail. It must be supported by a comprehensive public relations plan, or at least accompanied by complementary targeted strategies that reinforce the message to assure media attention, such as:
· Individual pitch emails and personal phone calls to draw out the more specific messaging elements that relate to a reporter’s audience or to provide new information beyond what is in the release;
· Op-eds, articles and blog posts supporting the message of the news release and tying it into news flow and culture; and
· Social media graphics that visually draw out key messages, and more.
The bottom line? Larry’s right. Press Releases don’t have the same function as they used to, but are still an important part of getting your message out. If you’d like more detailed information, here’s an excellent post on the A. Larry Ross Communications site.