In this growing age of digital supremacy, the press release is often incorrectly viewed as becoming a thing of the past, but as covered in one of our previous posts, it can still make up an essential part of your media strategy. However, for something so well known by those not even in the media industry, what are press releases and what do they consist of?

What is a Press Release?

Press releases are a publicity tool which can be anything from a written document to audiotaped or videotaped matter. It is an effective and powerful tool for publicity and marketing that directs positive influence towards you and your company. Press releases are formulated for any event, product or update by the promoters to the media for free coverage and editorial comment.

Why and When Should You Use Them?

No matter the size of an organisation, they all use press releases for a variety of reasons. The most common usage is marketing your organisations newest product or comment upon something that is high in the current news agenda. For example, if the new Brexit deal puts enormous tariffs on British steel, and your company is the UK’s top steel manufacturer. However, it’s never as easy as this. Working in its favour, press releases are a cost-effective way to market your business, products and services. Some of the common objectives are:

● Announcing a new product or service to get media coverage. You can discuss the new service or product and highlight its benefits. At the same, build up excitement for it with any endorsement you may have acquired.

● You can use press releases to boost the reputation of your brand if you want more people to know about it or you are thinking about re-launching your brand image. A revamped business website is worth announcing.

● If something has happened, an incident or a crisis, it is also beneficial to let the public know your company’s statement on the issue before it can become a harder issue to deal with.

● If your company has conducted significant research, a press release is the most common way to share findings with the public.

● In recognition of a special honour, professional award or nationally notable business contract.

When you should write and distribute a press release depends on your business timeline (eg. seasons that are most profitable for you, new product releases), the current news landscape (is your topic relevant currently or will it be overrun at this time?), and the main objectives behind distributing a press release.

The timing is crucial as content shared at the wrong time can quickly go unnoticed. For example, if you’ve recently found that 60% of dog owners share kisses with their pet, but you share that on the same day as England win the world cup, it would be like throwing a penny in the ocean and expecting your target audience to find it.

Definition of Gibberish in a dictionary

You may not be announcing the new theory of relativity, but keep “waffle”, “faf” and “gibberish” to a minimum!

Within the press release itself there are numerous considerations to think about such as: do you want local coverage or national? Is SEO important (will it be placed online or in print)? Who is your target audience, customers or shareholders?
If you have some news or facts that are worthy of public attention, then sending away your press release as soon as it has been proofread, another vital part, and ensuring another news headline won’t blow your news out of the water, could be a viable option.

However, with the advance of digital press releases, you have the opportunity to initially post a brief headline through social media and then follow up later with more details in the press release. This method usually suits a more established business with influence in its industry and good standing in the public eye.

Traditional PR and Digital PR – What’s the Difference?

Traditional PR

The primary focus of traditional PR is to provide offline visibility, which involves writing press releases for print media along with a specially modified output for individual events and press conferences. The traditional PR agencies deliver information to a broad audience with one-way communication which provides minimal feedback. The press release must be well-written so that it stands out from the hundreds of others that surface each day. With traditional PR, there is not much room for creativity nor chances for the intended audience to engage.

Digital PR

The term is self-explanatory. Digital PR is for an online audience, and the main aim of digital PR agencies is to gain online visibility. Digital PR agencies work with search engine information and potential publishers to tailor the content of a press release and provide a benefit to the company’s online performance, with successful campaigns potentially having beneficial results on a clients SERP rankings for the phrases targeted in the content.

If it was an extra special press release with digital content, then there may even be a juicy link obtained, coming back to the client website. While this final part involves merging the process of link building and Digital PR, they are two services that complement each other very well. A well performing digital PR article requires previous work to be completed on the client’s site, such as a content audit. This process helps plant solid roots for the digital PR to grow.

What sets them apart?

The main and the most obvious and significant difference between digital and traditional agencies is the room for creativity. Digital PR (content) does not have to be 4-5 paragraphs of text like a regular press release. A digital piece of content can be anything from a quiz, feature or infographic to a highly interactive piece. With digital content, there is an assortment of content types one can work with; therefore there are no restrictions to press releases only.

Beyond this, digital content helps in finding influencers within a particular marketplace. Digital agencies can build audiences surrounding a product or brand and, as a result, increase overall online visibility while engaging excellently with the intended audiences. Whereas, as mentioned prior, traditional PR is one-way and cannot achieve this mutually beneficial relationship.

The creation of quality digital PR calls for skills and abilities of technical SEO that only digital agencies and professionals can provide. These skills assist content creation, finding influencers for the brand’s products and services and secure high traffic. While social media may be seen as a death to traditional PR, it can play an essential role in the growth and development of digital PR.

It’s tempting to go into using social media for business, but I think that can wait for another day!

Blair Collins-Thomas

Blair Collins-Thomas

Away from disliking bios, Blair creates content and PR opportunities for clients, focusing on branding and communications. Complementing this with a sprinkling of SEO, he loves sport, music and making people happy.

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