By Mark Walsh, Account Executive
Press conferences, social media, interviews, videos, publicity stunts, launches, online campaigns and many other PR tools are well known to the masses. Each has its own advantage and disadvantage; but is there anything that a PR professional is more associated with than the simple press release?
It’s the central piece of any PR campaign. The main tool that a PR professional has at his or her disposal. The best way of getting the message across. Of course I’m talking about the press release.
It is easy to overlook it or take it for granted. However, once the glamour of the launches and television interviews for clients are over, there is still the business of sitting down at your computer and drafting a press release that will get a journalist’s attention and hopefully result in some media coverage for the client. To use that well known cliché; it’s your bread and butter.
The steps involved in crafting a press release that is news worthy is at times not as easy as one might think. A PR professional will need to identify what the news angle is or maybe create one from scratch. Then of course you must know the relevant journalist to send it to.
Like any newspaper article, it’s all about the structure. If a press release doesn’t read well it will be tossed aside. The common exchange between my colleagues and I is always “How many of these does a journalist get every day and how can we make our press release stand out”?
There is no exact science to it. If the news that you are looking to break is very important then you could argue that you don’t need to put too much thought into a catchy headline as the message alone will get attention. But sometimes the process can involve a lot of thought and rewriting until the message is clear and everyone is happy with it.
Being a journalist and writing your article with a strict deadline looming has been glamorised in movies for decades, however to my knowledge, writing a press release doesn’t get the same attention. In fact, there seems to be a negative association with the press release. The word churnalism has been used to describe newspaper articles that are based entirely on press releases.
Speaking for myself, there is always a sense of pride once I’ve finished writing a press release and then (hopefully) seeing the basis of it in a newspaper article.
There have been instances when journalists have tweeted unusual press releases that they received. Some releases have unusual or unfortunate headlines or others will seem a bit bizarre. Some I’m sure will be incredibly boring or will be full of jargon. But no matter what, it’s still the most effective way of getting the client’s message across to the media and the public.
Today, journalists have a variety of resources to get information. Obviously there is the internet and more specifically there is social media. Yet the press release is still as important as ever, if not more so at a time when fake news can be difficult to identify. Issued on behalf of the client and coming from an established PR agency, there can be no doubt that the information is official and will often include a quote from someone within the said organisation.
So don’t dismiss the press release. After all these years it still works as well as ever in an ever evolving news world. Journalists may have a variety of other ways to get information but there is still nothing more reliable then the press release.