What is the Value of Press Releases Today?
If you’re reading this, you’ve likely heard it before – “the press release is dead.” But so too is blogging and email and SEO, it’s also been reported. The point is, a communications tool that may be “dead” for one professional may still be alive and well and indeed very valuable for you.
Press releases, like blog posts, newsletters, ebooks, and other content forms, serve a specific role in the professional communicator’s toolkit – one that proves still vital among communicators today. Our 2015 content marketing survey found that press releases were among the top 3 forms of content being created by PR and marketing professionals last year. As part of the “media mix” (Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned), press releases are just one of the tools PR and marketing pros are using to tell brand stories to a wide audience today.
Here are just 4 things press releases can do:
Act as your voice of record with the media
Whether it’s breaking news, exclusive data or direct quotes, the information in a press release is the sought-after material today’s reporters and media professionals seek when they need from-the-source information about a given story. Press releases allow an organization to convey their points of view with credibility and clarity, as the format requires information to be laid out in an organized way designed for easy reading and understanding. As an antecedent to a media pitch, or for large companies – particularly publicly traded ones that need to meet disclosure requirements – press releases are helpful and often even necessary statements of public record.
Help to maintain transparency
Your consistent, official voice with your transparent message is a key part of maintaining a healthy brand identity. It will help you to build a relationship with your targeted media professionals and establish a level of trust that most will require to consider working with you. Revealing all the information needed for responsible decision-making has long been one of PR’s core values, and this is something that is increasingly important to brands.
According to AllBusiness.com; “No longer a luxury limited to forward-thinking, market-leading organizations, a stellar reputation for its transparency is a hallmark demanded of all companies by the marketplace: by regulators, board members, shareholders, and business partners – in short, all stakeholders – just to maintain survival and credibility.” Your press release may be your best competitive advantage in some cases.
Press release distribution may be perceived as a “blast” method of outreach, but releases that are sent over the wire can (and should!) be targeted based upon any specified combination of tagging and filters. This will allow you to reach many specific niches, and can mean the difference between hundreds or thousands of reads and none at all. When you research every industry and media outlet before you create your targets, you’ll get a higher return on your investment. After all, press releases do reach writers, and writers do read them. Journalists are able to set up custom feeds tailored to their needs and interests and access news releases in their newsroom systems and inboxes.
When Google’s Panda update rolled out in 2014, many said that using press releases as an SEO tactic was now null and void. More recently, in 2015, a small update placed more value in presenting in search results news information from it’s source. According to a Google spokesperson, “The goal of search is to get users the right answer at any one time as quickly as possible – that may mean returning an article from an established publisher or from a smaller niche publisher or indeed it might be a press release.”
So according to this, the quality of the content itself, rather than its source, is the factor that determines it’s visibility on Google’s search results. Hence, press releases, like the other content you create online, should be written in the language your audience speaks and also include multimedia, calls to action, and quotes to tell a story in a clear and understandable way.
The bottom line? A press release is still a valuable part of your PR toolkit when it comes to distributing information, and newswires offer a strategic solution. But they are just one medium for getting your message out, and if you’re not using social media, your blog and your online newsroom in conjunction, then you’re not maximizing your storytelling campaign.
For more information on taking a systematic approach to your online communication to ensure your content continues to resonate with your audience, access our tip sheet 5 Steps to Great Online Communication.