For Immediate Release: Why do businesses still use Press Releases in a digital era?
Thursday, March 24th, 2016
If your business needs to pep up its profile, the humble press release is still a vital tool
Welcome to Part 1 of our Guide to being a Digital Guru. This guide should help you to understand the media and PR for business in the modern age. This part focuses on Press Releases.
WINNING in business means winning in the court of public opinion. Those with the best reputations tend to be the victors who enjoy the greatest spoils.
While the hope is that if you offer great products and services backed up with excellent customer service, your business will just grow. The truth? There are plenty of businesses which are struggling despite their excellent products, services and customer service.
If you’re a business owner or decision maker, you will almost certainly have wrestled with this –how do you improve your marketing, messaging and media profile to make sure you don’t simply disappear into obscurity?
In the era of Google Ads, social networks and online reach there are a baffling array of options available to businesses. Yet sometimes too much choice results in no choice at all – it’s easier to ignore the problem than wade through so many possible solutions.
Fortunately there is one simple tool, which has been around for more than 100 years and, when used properly, it delivers amazing results time and time again: the humble press release. In the modern media, the traditional printed press plays second fiddle to the dominance of broadcast and online, so this simple-yet-effective tool should more accurately be referred to as a media release.
Today we want to help you understand exactly what these are, exactly how they work – and exactly why your business should consider using media releases. Which means you have to know the good, the bad and the ugly.
The Good – Where did it all start?
The first modern media release was sent by former journalist turned publicist Ivy Lee, in 1906. In the 110 years since, it has changed very little, a testament to the enduring qualities and usefulness of a tool which remains central to the public relations industry.
Lee had previously written for the New York Times and understood how the newspaper giant liked its stories. While working for a railroad company and following a fatal train crash, Lee wrote a media release crammed full of important, relevant and useful information. More importantly it was so targeted to what he knew the newspaper wanted that the New York Times printed it almost word for word.
An entire category was born and in the intervening century the media release (and the public relations industry) thrived and grew.
The Bad – Where did it start to go wrong?
Yet if we zip forward 100 year, the media release started to get a particularly bad reputation, as journalism was disrupted and revolutionised by the relentless rise of the internet.
While struggling newspapers shed staff, they took to filling their pages with media releases without much fact checking, challenging of claims or putting in place other checks and balances – a practice known as ‘churnalism’.
Meanwhile the PR industry was also doing itself no favours, by pumping out endless ‘media releases’ which were in fact little more than self-serving, self-congratulatory marketing messages. The media release had become a tool synonymous with lazy cold calling techniques by unambitious (or even unscrupulous) PR people.
It got so bad that a journalist even created a meme, “Die Press Release, Die, Die, Die”, which gained so much notoriety that it is widely seen as having spurred public relations influencers and professional bodies into ever great efforts to raise standards.
The Ugly – Where are we now?
Don’t be put off by the word ugly. The fact is that every profession, sector and industry has its ugly truths. The dirty little secrets they’d prefer you didn’t know about. Yet, when you do know about them, it is far easier for you to make well-informed business decisions.
So here at Holyrood PR we are happy to acknowledging that the media release is an imperfect beast. Likewise we know that in other hands it can be mistreated and misused. Journalists and bloggers alike despair at being bombarded with drivel that is irrelevant to them and to their audiences.
And yet …
Treated respectfully and professionally, the media release remains an incredibly effective tool for sharing genuine stories. It is an ideal vehicle for reaching journalists, bloggers and influencers with material that is useful, informative or educational.
It has also become the basic building block in effective digital outreach. Far from being outmoded or outdated, the ideal media release in 2016 will be accompanied by photographs, video and infographics.
What’s more, when a PR agency works with a business to dig out genuinely interesting stories, those will add value far beyond the media – giving savvy businesses the basis of great content for their websites, newsletters, social media channels and beyond.
We tell your stories to the world
Here at Holyrood PR, we don’t just write press releases – we dig deep to find the real story, the interesting nugget or the quirky angle that takes the ordinary or everyday events and makes it into something a bit special.
Then we deliver those stories to journalists, writers, bloggers and influencers who are looking for great, quality content of pictures, video and links to other important information and that’s what we specialise in.
Here are just a few examples:
After being informed that a colony of Great Crested Newts inhabit their proposed property development in Glenboig, the Banks Group built an underpass, especially to help the love lives of the romantic amphibians.
Robo Mop: Wall-E lookalike cleaning robot mops up media coverage – Our client used a robot to clean water tanks, which would normally be of interest to no-one but sector geeks. That was until our PR experts spotted its remarkable resemblance to lovable cartoon robot, Wall-E.
Heavy Metal: Steely determination to beat thieves forges a media victory – The Scottish Business Resilience Centre is a client that works in a varied sector. They work with ethical hackers, the police and trading standards. This time, we were promoting their initiatives to combat the increasing scourge of metal theft. CCTV footage provided a spark to the proceedings.
Could it be time for you to make a positive change – by working with Scotland’s Most Outstanding Small Public Relations Agency?
It has been 110 years since the first press release was sent and while the structure has not changed greatly, the media landscape has transformed.
For savvy businesses, media relations means targeting the relevant media with the right story, the right angle, while ensuring the content suits their platform. Do they want facts and figures with a photo? Or would they love some video content to back up a story?
That’s why having a whole team of experts at hand is brilliant for your business. We know the media, we know the journalists, what their audiences want – and we know storytelling. So we can create a media strategy that ensures success using a range of multimedia tools.
We’d love the chance to chat with you about how we can help your business. Simply phone us on 0131 561 2244 or fill in the simple form below and we’ll get straight back to you:
So how can we help?
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