HomeThe InfluencersBehind the MediaWhy do we love to hate the press release?

Why do we love to hate the press release?

It’s promotion season for most professional services firms and with it the deluge of press releases that all echo the same – ‘delighted to announce’, sometimes ‘thrilled’ and almost certainly ‘joining the whole firm to congratulate’.

It highlights the love-hate relationship most PR people have with the press release. We know they are important and useful, but we also know we rely on them way too much.

The press release is the bedrock for much PR activity. Their demise is regularly predicted but they endure. And that is because they are a useful tool.

Professional services firms create a lot of ‘news’. Of course, it’s not really news, more announcements that PRs simply want to get out of the way as quickly as possible. They include deals done, new offices, promotions, new hires, awards and so on.

We know they are important to our firms and the press releases are lovingly created, often agonising over a catchy headline, ripped apart by partners (and sometimes marketing colleagues) and issued to the press knowing they will largely be ignored.

But they are more than that. Here are three ways we use press releases with our professional services clients to deliver meaningful press.

Focus messaging. If you are building a great story or pitch to the media the press release will help. It focuses the minds of lawyers and accountants on the messaging they want external audiences to take away. The process of writing it down and then reviewing and amending builds better stories.

Alerting media to important changes. A short punchy press release that offers opinion and explanation on changes in legislation, regulation or government policy is often welcomed by press. That doesn’t mean providing a detailed explanation of those changes, but what those changes will mean for clients.

Comment on breaking issues. Again, short and punchy is key. Comment and attribution in a timely way is often all that is needed to help journalists with their story. If your comment is spilling over two or three pages stop, review and edit.

But remember, use press releases sparingly and in a targeted way. All too often PRs are tempted to spray and pray, effectively spamming reporters with press releases in the hope that at least one or two will stick. They rarely do.

A targeted approach is better and often more productive. Journalists learn to trust individual PRs who consistently deliver good press releases in a timely way.

The press release is overused, much abused and often written off as no use. But it still has a role to play. Long live the press release.

Matt Baldwin is the joint managing director of Coast, a public relations consultancy. He is also the editor of PM Magazine and The Professionals.

Matt Baldwin
Matt Baldwin
Co-founder – Coast Communications

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