To those unfamiliar with the public relations industry, our jobs may seem to be filled with writing and sending press releases to pitch to the news media. However, with the ever-changing media landscape, these once-essential tools have become just one of many options. So, how do you determine whether a press release is necessary?
A press release is often a critical way to share your news. It’s a company’s official statement or announcement on a particular matter, with detailed information as well as relevant quotes, usually from company executives and key experts. Press releases are shared with the media through distribution services and amplified in a company’s own social media channels.
Yet not every announcement is complex, unique or newsworthy enough to warrant a press release. Your team may be able to save valuable time and money by skipping a release altogether and going with a more informal media pitch or a social media post instead.
In deciding whether to issue a press release, publicly traded companies face certain requirements and complications when determining their outreach strategies. Here, we explain the considerations for privately held companies to help determine if your news moment merits a press release.
External vs. Internal Audiences
First and foremost, make sure that your announcement is relevant to a wide external audience. The average media outlet and consumer is probably not interested in everything your company accomplishes, such as operational improvements or work anniversaries. Save those for internal meetings, newsletters or social media, where the recipients are already part of your network.
However, if your news will have a major impact on your customers, other external stakeholders or the general public, a press release should be considered. Make sure you’re attuned to the aspects of your business that interest your customers the most and keep them in mind when planning media outreach. Of course, timely and significant information, such as a product recall, will merit the formal press release treatment. That valuable information will then live on your company website as a record of a swift and serious response, and also will be publicly available to anyone who may be affected.
Assess Your Media Targets
Once you’ve determined that your news is appropriate for an external audience, think about the media outlets to reach your target audience, and identify the reporters who have shown previous interest in this subject. Take the time to understand each journalist’s expectations and present the necessary information in a clear and concise way.
Many reporters cover several different beats and may not have time to conduct interviews or write an article for every story. In this case, a press release with quotes and a photo or other visuals will help them easily and quickly pull the information that they need into a story.
Other journalists will look to a press release for an initial overview but prefer to dig deeper for a unique angle, seek their own interviews or request additional information and materials. A pitch email or brief media advisory may be an ideal news delivery vehicle for these types of targets.
Take a Step Back
It may be hard to distance yourself from the situation but try to take a step back and understand it from an outsider’s perspective. How much explanation is needed? What information is essential to the reader? Does this announcement relate to a larger story? How will people react to the news?
If an announcement is simple enough to fit in a 280-character social media post, then it may not be worth going through the process of drafting, revising, approving and distributing a detailed press release. Social media provides companies with a direct line to their consumers, without a media member curating the information.
Don’t feel the need to rely on a press release for every announcement. Even if you do issue a press release, give your key media contacts a heads up to help build your relationship and increase the chances of getting the coverage that you’re seeking.