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Pros and Cons of Press Releases: Part 1
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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I just recently read a blog appearing on hubspot.com titled When Press Releases Do (and Don't) Help Your Marketing. Written by Rachel Sprung, the blog column offered some reasons why press releases can work and why they often times do not. So let’s hold an informal class, if you will, to review what makes for great press releases and what can make press releases bomb.

According to her blog, when it’s time to announce a new product, a new acquisition, a new promotion, or anything new, most organizations immediately think their first move should be to start publishing press releases. In the pre-digital age, that would have worked. Now, I am not saying that such a tactic won’t work today; I am simply saying (as does Rachel), that the rise of the digital media age has opened more avenues for creative PR as well as more possibilities where PR campaigns can flounder.

Let’s see where press releases can work and help any organization with its news:

1. If written well, the press release will be picked up by other publications. This is why a lot of organizations use services such as PRwire, etc. to ensure their releases are spread as widely as possible. More publications picking up press releases means more coverage and consequently more buzz. However, the caveat here is that you must time the release of your press release just right so it gets picked up by as many outlets as possible. This is where some prior planning and research is necessary.

2. You can build links with great PR. As Sprung noted, “there is tremendous synergy between SEO and PR — and hey, we believe it, too. The press that stems from a press release is a boon for SEO managers everywhere, because remarkable actions spur people to create (read: activity that warrants press coverage) tends to spur content coverage. And coverage of your brand often also comes with inbound links back to your website. That means you shouldn't depend on your press release to do all the work; it might simply be the means for communicating to the rest of the world that more coverage of a story is warranted. You can, however, use press release real estate to sprinkle in important keywords, and include helpful links for readers and media alike.” As she said, links can also be hyperlinks to your website or blog column or anything that will help your PR message and/or marketing campaign.

3. Good PR helps journalists check information. The goal here is to provide media with easy access to information about your product and your company. When building relationships with journalists and media, even if you only send an email to a journalist, as Rachel says, send a recent press release as an attachment. That journalist will appreciate your thoughtfulness and, as Rachel commented, it “makes writing about your company insanely easy, and establishes a good relationship that will help you get future press coverage.”

4. A good press release helps your messaging. Because press releases can be valuable tools for those inside the organization (think sales reps, company spokespeople, key company officers, etc.) as well as providing information for customers and media, press releases need to be accurate, well-written, and consistent with the organization’s marketing strategies.

5. The best press releases often include other media. Don’t stop with just the “paper” press release; include photos or graphics or, better yet, a link to either audio or video (or both) in your press releases. A recent study, as Sprung noted, claims that engagement increases “by about 18% for photos and 55% for videos.” Sprung also commented, “Not only will your press release performance improve, but you're able to repurpose some of that visual content in other areas of your marketing — like emails, landing pages, social media, and blog posts.”

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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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