Is the Press Release Dead?

While leading a media relations roundtable discussion at the Public Relations Society of America-National Capital Chapter’s (PRSA-NCC) 8th Annual Public Relations Issues of the Day for Associations and Nonprofits, I was asked to answer the question, “Is the press release dead?”

The answer? Press releases are alive and well, and journalists still want them.

Cision’s 2018 Global State of the Media Report found that 65 percent of journalists reported that press releases and news announcements are still the most valuable content to receive from PR contacts. For three years in a row, journalists have told Cision the same thing — the press release is their most trusted brand-related source of information from organizations.

Between drafting and managing approvals and distributing your release, press release development can be time-consuming and its distribution costly. Plus, journalists can receive hundreds of press releases, news announcements and pitches each day. How can communicators make their press releases stand out from the rest?

Here are a few points to keep in mind when crafting strategic, effective press releases that can help your media outreach and relationship-building efforts succeed.

Press Releases Focus the Story. The process of crafting a press release helps communicators and organization leaders shape and focus the story. Determining the headline, lead paragraph and what information is critical, timely and newsworthy to tell the story enables communicators to identify and filter the most compelling and interesting parts to share.

Press Releases Outline the Real News. Journalists look for a clear news hook and the most relevant details or information. The press release development process identifies these key components and can present them in a format that helps reporters find the story quickly. Keeping your press release to one page is essential.

Press Releases Boost Search Engine Optimization and Digital Content. Press releases can improve your organization’s web presence and boost search engine optimization. Press releases become digital content that aligns your organization to specific topics or keywords. Because internet, website and social media searches are primary ways for reporters to research organizations and story topics, press releases are an easy way to provide linkable content for social media posting and increase your organization’s positioning in web search results.

Press Releases Position Leadership. While reporters rarely lift quotes from press releases and include them in their stories, including quotes by leaders does provide an opportunity to position organization leaders in front of media. The press release is a great way to offer organization leaders or key stakeholders related to your news story as interview sources and subject matter experts.

There is still life for press releases in our communications ecosystem. Knowing when and how to use press releases must be based on what your organization wants to accomplish — that is, its communication goals — and who you need to reach — your key audiences. If your press release aligns with your communication goals and audiences, then it can serve as a valuable tool to engage reporters and secure media coverage that can help achieve your goals.