The Myth Of The Press Release

paperboyThe following is excerpted from the Summer 2010 Chaldean American Chamber Newsletter:

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. Traditional news holes are tight and resources stretched.

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.

It really comes down to news value. A press release announcing a “sale” or “open house” may be newsworthy in your eyes and to your organization but will not be looked at similarly by an editor or producer. “Take out an ad,” they might suggest. In fact, sending in such information will only hurt the credibility of those sending it in the eyes of the media decision maker.

The key to media coverage? Here’s what we really do: Properly package stories for targeted media distribution. Rarely is it about hitting a ‘send to all’ button. To be sure, it is not about sitting back and seeing what sticks and is covered in the end. It is an approach that can make the difference between the front page and the circular file.