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You Need More Than A Good Old Press Release For Modern PR

Annette Densham is co-founder of The Audacious Agency, specializing in award-winning profile building, branding and business awards.

Contacting the media? Let’s count the ways. There’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, phone, direct message, online contact forms, online distribution portals, email and good old-fashioned snail mail.

The tried-and-true method of getting a story in front of a journalist is a press release. But with all these different ways of communicating with the media, is it still relevant? Do journalists still read them and need them? Or is there a better way?

Every day, there are thousands of press releases dropping into journalists’ inboxes, which means a press release needs to really stand out to grab attention. Add to that, public relations (PR) has changed a lot over the past decade — it’s no longer about sending a release and getting a media win. There is a lot of noise out there. You have to work hard to get the story over the line.

Having a multichannel PR strategy is the key to standing out. While some may say the press release has gone the way of MySpace, I believe it still serves a purpose, as long as you don’t rely on it as your sole PR tool.

What’s The Point Of A Press Release?

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Before you go off to write a press release or pay someone to do it, think about what you want to achieve. Press releases are good for timely news, like product launches, events, winning an award, new appointments or responding to issues in an industry.

For time-poor journalists and other content providers, a press release is a handy tool to get all the information in front of the media. However, it needs to be kept to the point (as it should have always been) and accompanied by a quick email pitch.

SEO Advantages

Many organizations use media releases to improve their search engine optimization (SEO). It is all about the backlinks. By distributing through online portals for news sites, a well-written release can give quality links. But get it wrong, and you can get penalized — make sure the content is high quality and not spammy. A story has to be newsworthy to be shareable by the media.

The Need For A Mix

With the media so fractured and more difficult to leverage, one appearance from a press release in a major metro publication is not enough. You now need to be in all sorts of media that your ideal audience is absorbing. It is not impossible; it just takes more skill and time to do so. You need a really well-targeted strategy and an awesome story, plus a lot more patience.

Because news is absorbed differently now, having more than a trusty press release to get a story out there is important. Here are some other ways to get your news out:

• Articles: Write a quality editorial piece to share your knowledge. You get the kudos for appearing in a quality publication, backlinks with your bio, and an opportunity to share your expertise and knowledge. There are many big-name online publications that are always looking for great news content.

• How-Tos/Lists: Make sure the content is relevant to the publication’s audience. This is another way to showcase your expertise to an audience outside your blog or owned media.

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• Opinion Pieces: Share your thoughts on a topic or issue. Remember the “letters to the editor”? This is a similar concept. Business publications are often looking for insights and thoughts on current business issues and topics.

• Media Release Hack: Sometimes, it is better to cut to the chase and pitch your story directly to the journalist. Lead with the facts — who, what, when, where, how and why — and see if the journalist wants to pursue the story further. You can pitch through social media or directly to the journalist’s email address.

• Podcasts And Videos: Fewer people read a newspaper from cover to cover anymore, and more people are watching videos on platforms like Instagram or listening to podcasts. It’s more important than ever to look at the big picture and know exactly how you want to position your brand. Otherwise, you will waste oodles of time and money on “knee-jerk PR.”

The moral of the PR story is this: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Use a variety of strategies to get your story out there.

Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?

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