11 December 2015 By Northern Lights
Leading communications writer Max Tatton-Brown has written an article recently that argues a traditional press release has limited value and is little more than a vanity project that few want to read. I disagree with this overarching view and say a well-crafted press release for businesses still has real value for positioning a brand and addressing key issues.
The piece says press releases are the selfies of the marketing world and argues, like selfies, they make the company at the heart of the press release an artificial focus point and ignore the bigger picture behind them.
It’s a really interesting point and I totally agree with Max when he goes on to say that businesses need to shift the focus and start using press releases to focus on the whole landscape.
Here at Northern Lights we’ve seen a rise in popularity of press releases once again and are producing them for a variety of clients. We’ve seen success because we never shout “we are excited to announce” and instead look at how the business can add value to their target audience by leveraging their expertise and insights.
Successful communications today have to use a plethora of different channels to secure success, but the press release is an integral part of this.
Many PR agencies boldly claim they will never send out a press release and proclaim “the press release is dead”. This is shortsighted and they are missing out on a powerful communications channel that has priceless value to a brand in person and, most importantly, online.
While expertly crafted websites and comprehensive content marketing strategies that are supported with robust social media campaigns are fantastic, they need to be supported by external sources. Google wants to see quality content linking back to your business from trusted media outlets, blogging platforms and other businesses. Press releases are a great way to get these trusted external sources to feature articles and opinion pieces from you.
I keep banging on about this, but the world is online and Google is the supreme overlord. To succeed, you have to be on page one of the search engine and press releases are a great way to get found.
But, how do you create a successful press release in today’s landscape? In truth, Max and I are in agreement on this. It can no longer be a duck-faced, naval-gazing piece that shouts “look at me” – like a selfie, these just attract derisory looks and are rarely used.
A successful press release has to add something to the debate, provide answers readers need or challenge existing opinion.
Most importantly, a press release has to have value as a story. Will someone want to read what you have to say? If it’s only the people in your business and your mum who will be interested, scrap it and think of something else.
Base your piece on clear, simple facts, share your experiences and help people to understand the trends or how they can overcome the challenges they are facing in their business.
Keep it short and to the point and bring it to life with people. Use interviews and real-life examples and justify what you say. Illustrate the story with the facts, quotes and with a quality image.
Understand your sector, listen to the issues that are being discussed and provide the answers. Get to know the journalists and editors and look at what they are writing about – see how you can provide what they need.
If you get the combination right, you’ll get that coveted coverage and you’ll position yourself as an expert in your field.
Now, more than ever, the media and other online outlets are clamouring for content that will add value to their readers. The industry is facing ever-increasing pressure and has limited resources so there is a real opportunity to support exhausted journalists with quality stories.
Similarly, that mountain of pressure to deliver also means newsdesks have zero tolerance for poor press releases that have little value. Get it wrong and your future press release could simply be ignored.
Going back to Max’s excellent selfie analogy. Too many of us simply stare at the black mirror in front of us and let it publicise every facet of our business and personal lives, luring us into believing we have found stardom.
The reality is that everyone is so involved in their own stardom that they rarely see anyone else’s. By turning the camera around and sharing your views on the world, you can start to be heard above the clamour of a selfie-obsessed world.