Tanner Friedman
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The Myth of the Press Release


Quite often when I am asked what I do for a living, my answer of "Public Relations" is met with a blank stare. "Publicity," I often add, "People come to us because they want to be covered in the news." 

"Oh," often comes the reply, "You write press releases." 

It is understandable. Before I entered the world of PR nearly 20 years ago, I thought the same thing. And, while the traditional press release still has its place, it is far from the "end all, be all" for generating coverage for yourself or your company.

To begin with, the current media landscape is dramatically different than it was just one or two years ago. Traditional "news holes" are shrinking in the wake of industry consolidation. Newspapers are thinner than they've ever been; TV and radio news crews are often skeletal. It is not unlike many industries in our challenging economy virtually everyone is forced to try to do more with less. And, less reporters and less air time or news space means less stories are making their way into the mainstream media. That said, the press release does still have its place. It is most effective, in fact, in promoting specific news for example a charitable event. In this instance, all pertinent information pertaining to who, what, when, where, can be provided to media for quick and easy dissemination. Again, though, it comes down to news value. A press release announcing a "sale" or "open house" may be news in your eyes and to your organization but will not be looked at similarly by an editor or producer. In fact, sending in such information will only hurt the credibility of those sending it in the eyes of the media decision maker.

At Tanner Friedman, we like to say: we help our clients tell their stories. Considering the media landscape we have described, today, we also help our clients tell their own stories. You should be doing the same. I can still recall, as recently as a year or so ago, clients that considered an online-only story less desirable than a story in physical print. As all of us get our up-to-the-minute information more and more from the Internet, we know such a digital story is much more than a consolation prize. Enter: social media.

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and your Web site are all ideal means by which to communicate your company or businesses' news and information. Traditional media won't run your press release? Post it to the news section of your website. Also post it to your social media pages with links back to that online news section. TV won't cover your event? Take your own video and get it onto YouTube. Blogging can also be a fantastic way to post new information online to drive web traffic and searchability while allowing current and potential clients/customers and referral sources an opportunity to get to know you better - how you work and think. Similarly, e-newsletters prepared and distributed quarterly or semi-annually, allow you an ideal opportunity to package and put forth a series of stories and news to targeted audiences. It's all part of an integrated, multi-platform approach.

In the end, the key to success in the world of old and new media is a willingness to adapt, evolve and try new avenues. Remember, it's not about what you read, listen to or watch. News Flash: You want to be where your customers go for news and information - today and tomorrow.

Don Tanner is a founding partner with Tanner Friedman - a Farmington Hills-based strategic communications firm specializing in traditional and emerging media, marketing and adversity management. Tanner Friedman is a member of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce. For more: TannerFriedman.com

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