To press release or not to press release?

by Kerry Johnson

Woman Typing Press Release on Laptop

Press releases are a valuable approach for announcing company news. That’s why our S&A content team writes and distributes a fair number of them. 

But some topics and situations don’t warrant a press release. 

That’s not to say the information isn’t worthwhile, but rather that it might be better suited to another format. One that spurs higher engagement and may even save you time and money. 

So the next time your company has new information to share, pause to ask yourself the questions below. If you answer “no” to any, consider swapping “press release” for another tactic. 

1. Will reporters and editors consider your topic newsworthy? 

News that grabs journalists’ attention is urgent. It lends itself to headlines written with immediacy about need-to-know-now information. Press releases are key tools for sharing news with the media. Some topics are interesting but not necessarily news, in which case, a press release probably isn’t the way to go.  

Think of it this way: Can you envision your topic being featured on a media outlet’s homepage or breaking news section? If so, then press on with a release. If not, then your information—while still engaging—may not be of-the-minute enough to get you the coverage you’re seeking.  

What to consider instead: Sponsored content has come a long way in recent years, with targeted readership that can rival that of organic coverage. If you identify an outlet that’s well suited for your important-but-not-necessarily-newsworthy message, look into paid placements. You might be surprised by what they can deliver for your brand. 

2. Is there value for a media audience? 

Remember that media outlets strive to give their readers value, which means providing content that directly impacts their lives. Many press releases—especially those that announce products or company tidbits—fail to explain the WIIFM (what’s in it for me?). A news release must show the media how to use the featured information to build content their readers will care about. If you’re struggling to weave a WIIFM storyline into your press release, the media will also struggle with the value proposition. When the storyline is elusive, look for a different approach.  

What to consider instead: Many companies succeed with owned content—updates, announcements, thought leadership pieces and how-to’s posted on the company website and pushed out via the company’s social channels or email streams. Content that comes directly from your company humanizes your brand and allows you to position it as special information that creates more meaningful connections with your customers. 

3. Does the topic have broad appeal? 

Some company announcements reflect employees’ hard work and passion and are therefore incredibly important. The hard truth? The same news that’s crucial for recognizing your team’s achievements might not be as meaningful to the general public and therefore won’t generate as much interest from mainstream media.  

What to consider instead: A certain industry or segment of the population may still be highly invested and interested in your news. In these cases, go ahead and craft a press release, but hone your distribution. Rather than sending your release over the wire or to major consumer news organizations, deliver it to targeted, highly specialized outlets and help them understand how the information impacts their readers. 

Still not sure whether to send a press release? Ask us. We’ll help you figure out which tactic makes the most sense. After all, a well-crafted press release can be an effective tool, but the headline for us is bolstering your brand by creating content that builds relationships with your customers. 

Kerry Johnson writes press releases—and sometimes recommends alternative approachesin her role as director of content & PR at Stephens & Associates.

Topics:best practicesmarketing insightspublic relations