The press release has been a public relations staple, a pariah and a candidate for burial. But it is still around and, in the digital era, may be enjoying new life.
Ridiculed as self-promoting puffery, press releases don’t have to be stuffed with smarmy statements by company executives. Instead they can be engaging storytelling platforms.
With slimmer news staffs, credible, well-written press releases can tell an entire story for a news reporter or producer and entice them to pursue it. Or, in some cases, they can use the press release as the stem for their own story.
The storytelling press release also can be original content placed on your own website or online newsroom. Your online newsroom can and should be designed to look and feel like a “news” site. And your content, including press releases, should resemble the news.
Some good uses of press releases include:
• Distilling a story with complexity to its comprehensible essence.
• Highlighting elements of a story that have human interest and are entertaining or unusual.
• Conveying meaningful, on-point quotes without an in-person or on-camera interview.
• Providing the backstory to an event or milestone.
• Calls to action that drive trackable traffic to your website or online newsroom.
• Offering background information, visual assets, links and contact information that make following a story easier.
• Gaining wider exposure than a single channel.
A rule of thumb is that the newsier a press release reads, the more likely it will gain some traction in a newsroom – or on your own online newsroom.
Vanity press releases have less appeal to the media – and readers – than press releases that are audience-centric. The key is providing quality content that is readable and even enjoyable.
Call it brand journalism or anything else, your press release can do the job if it’s clear, clever or convincing and it’s credible. If you want to make the news, your press release needs to be newsworthy – in content, approach and style. It needs to tell a genuine story.