By Jon Mohr, Business2Community Contributor
The Canadian government is no longer writing press releases, preferring instead to adopt a new, shorter format that features bullet points, one quotation and then links to other resources.
Coca-Cola is phasing out press releases with the goal of stopping them entirely by 2015. Coke’s leader of digital communications and social media says her mission is to “kill the press release” and focus her company’s efforts on brand journalism instead. To that end, Coke has assembled a newsroom full of people with journalism backgrounds who know how to use the tools, tactics and style of journalism to tell the company’s story.
These examples are far from unique. As more and more people come to understand the power of content marketing and how best to apply it, the roll-of-the-dice approach taken with the press release seems less and less effective.
Under the best of circumstances, the odds are stacked against a press release before it is even written. When one arrives at a newspaper or magazine, the writer’s goal is usually to spark an editor’s interest, leading to a story or coverage of some type, on the topic. A well-written press release, given the correct set of circumstances – an appropriately slow news cycle, a hole of the correct size in the correct place, a reporter with a couple of free hours at the right time of day – may occasionally achieve this result.
But the overwhelming majority of press releases distributed are never even read, much less acted upon. Having worked as a newspaper and magazine editor for 15 years, I assure you of that. Most newspapers and magazines don’t rely upon press releases for story ideas. Those that do likely don’t have much of an audience and probably aren’t the best choice to tell the story anyway.
Yet thousands of press releases are still churned out every day. Often this is not because their authors have any great hopes of hitting a home run; they’re just following the same process they’ve always used or they aren’t sure what else to try.
A different approach…
If your company still relies upon the press release as one of its primary marketing strategies, you should examine some alternatives. Here are three options to consider:
Writing a blog frees you from the narrow structure of the press release format and allows you to develop a brand voice while also distributing information. If done properly, it will also help boost your search engine rankings and establish you as a thought leader in your industry.
If you’re trying to establish a presence on social media and start a conversation with your peers, partners and clients, why not share the information you want them to have directly and bypass the step where you hope someone else does this for you. Use Twitter or Facebook to link to an article you’ve posted on Tumblr or a blog post and it’s now available to anybody at any time.
Newspapers and magazines do have space to fill. The design process almost always results in a hole here or gap there. When this happens, editors need something they can quickly plug into that space. This is where the mat release – a pre-written story that often just needs to be edited for length – is used. If you want an article written, why not write it yourself, or hire a content creation company to do so? It will say what you want, how you want, and you can then pay to have it distributed through most major media companies. In order for your mat release to get noticed, build your message in a few different styles to help create compelling content and maximize your distribution. Download our Free Ebook for tips on formatting your mat release into those styles.
Begin to use these three marketing strategies and you may quickly join Coke and Canada in saying so long to the press release.
Originally published on Dec 23, 2012 11:38 AM, updated Feb 10, 2016