The other day, I read an interesting blog post about how Shareaholic has ditched news releases in favor of announcing news on their blog. In their post, they make the case for blog post announcements, which include everything from SEO and traffic benefits to storytelling and engagement.
While I’m definitely on board with using a blog as a vehicle to talk about what you’re doing as a company, I don’t think blog posts are a wholesale replacement of a news release.
News releases aren’t dead
Part of the issue is that this company equated news releases with paying to send them out through a wire service, such as PRWeb or BusinessWire.
Although there are times it makes sense to use a wire service, it shouldn’t be the only way you distribute a news release — especially if you’re a smaller businesses pursuing local media coverage.
Why news releases are still valuable
So, why should you still use a news release? Here are a few reasons:
- Some industries require it. Some industries, such as the financial sector, require investor announcements and quarterly earnings to be distributed through a traditional release.
A blog post just won’t cut it in this instance. And, even outside of highly regulated industries, there are some beats and publications that will be more likely to respond to a release than a blog post.
- It follows journalistic style. Most blog posts don’t follow the inverted pyramid with a solid lede and the most important information up front. Serving up a traditional news release makes it easier for reporters to get the information quickly and easily. Not to mention, sometimes well-written releases will get picked up in its entirety, which gives you greater ability to control the message.
- Many blogs lack the audience. If you have well-established brand with a highly trafficked blog, announcing news on your own site has its merits. However, start-ups, smaller companies and businesses that are trying to get on the media’s radar don’t have this luxury. News releases will be far more effective for companies trying to break out.
- Efficiency for reporters. When asking some reporter friends about how they’d like to receive news tips, one reporter said she wouldn’t want to click on a link to get the information. She wants everything right in front of her to make the decision. Sending a pitch or release in an email gives the reporter everything she needs without having to jump online or look around to find the information.
How Blogs Can Help with Media Relations
Although I’m making the argument for news releases, that doesn’t mean you can’t use your blog to support your media relations efforts.
Instead of ditching news releases entirely, consider how your blog and social media efforts can complement the release.
For instance, on the day you have an announcement to make, you can publish a corresponding blog post that complements the news release. A new hire announcement could feature a Q&A or video with the new employee or executive. Then, you could link to the blog post in the release or refer to it in your pitch.
You could also think of creative ways to customize the content and distribute it on your various social media channels.
However, the news release still stands as the primary vehicle to get the basic information (who, what, when, where and why) to the reporter.
Another approach would be to use blog posts to support to a pitch you’re making on a larger story. For instance, maybe a particular blog post spurred a great discussion that would make for a great article. Or, perhaps your blog can serve as proof that you would make an excellent contributor or guest columnist.
Media Relations Best Practices
Whether you decide to use news releases or blog posts as the foundation for your media relations efforts, there are a few best practices you should keep in mind:
- Make sure it includes actual news. All the reporters I asked about this said the vehicle matters less than the content. Make sure whatever you send is relevant, timeline and newsworthy. This should not simply be an advertisement for your brand.
- Build relationships. Reporters are far more likely to open your email, read your pitch, release or blog if you’ve built a relationship first. Be helpful, connect with reporters on social media channels, understand the reporter’s beat and and look for ways to become a valued resource.
- Know your audience. Understanding your reporter’s preferences will go a long way. Ask how reporters like to receive story ideas — blogs, releases, social media, etc. — and deliver up the news that way.
- Package content. Think about how you can package content — bios, photos, videos and graphics — to go along with any story ideas. This is why online newsrooms can be so helpful for reporters.
- Contact reporters. Simply putting your release on the wire or publishing a blog post isn’t going to get you media coverage — especially at the local level. You have to get in touch with reporters and let them know you’ve got an announcement for them.
What do you think — should blog posts replace news releases? Will you try taking that approach?
6 replies on “Should You Ditch the Traditional News Release?”
This is an excellent post, Laura. We are lucky in that we operate in an industry where reporters prefer direct pitches vs press releases and that our blog does have a strong readership. I especially love the last section where you mention “best practices”. I’d even add: Regularly Publish News. From firsthand experience and observation, I’ve noticed that the most buzzed about companies are those that regularly have something newsworthy going on. Rather than publishing a big announcement every 6 months or every year, we try to publish BIG news every quarter. In the meantime, we try publishing new reports twice a month to ensure we’re still top-of-mind with journalists who enjoy our data :).
Much thanks for this blog post, Laura!
Danny – Thanks for stopping by and weighing in! I really appreciate it.
You’re right – your industry is far more conducive to blog posts, especially since you offer a social sharing plugin for blogs! It makes natural sense for you.
I like the tip about regularly publishing news – especially reports. Those can be really useful. The problem is that so many companies don’t have anything newsworthy going on or don’t know how to identify the things that are. We’ll be writing about that too in the coming weeks – how to spot news at your company!
Again, great insight!
Shareaholic might get bit for this change. Very few businesses could go all blog and get it then distributed. Facebook. Google. sure. GM? JP Morgan? Bonnie’s Bagels? Not so sure. It is never all either or but it is an all. As you mentioned each industry is unique and you need to leverage the channels that work.
I met with a prospective client who use no SEO tactics but they get gangbusters web business in spite of this. When they asked about doing a blog obviously SEO was not the reason to do so. And I recommended a pure storytelling angle should they decide to embark on this. But our industry would say ‘Blog for SEO for everyone’
“Blanket tactics and statements are only as valuable as the wool they are knitted with” I just made that up and not sure it makes sense but it sounds great!
Howie – I’m not sure that Shareaholic will get bit for it. It seems like they’ve found a process that works for them. But, I agree with you that there are few companies that could pull this off (many of which you already listed). If you’re a company that reporters are regularly tracking, a blog announcement might get noticed. Smaller companies don’t have that luxury.
And I love your “blanket tactics” comment! So true! There are rarely recommendations that work across the board for everyone.
Blog and press release are not synonyms.
Probably six or eight months ago, while still at the paper, I was meeting with a guy who asked the question. “Should I keep doing press releases or should I just publish the news on my blog?”
I refrained from my smarmy responses but asked why he writes a blog. Staying connected with customers, etc. was his response. OK. Why write and send press releases? To get news in the paper/radio/tv/etc.
“My reporters don’t read your blog. No press releases and you’ll probably never be in the paper again, unless your name is in the police reports.”
While there is overlap, there are differing audiences, and if you want to be in “the press” you need to use the tools “the press” responds to, and a press release – well written, targeted and relevant – is one of those tools.
I couldn’t have said it better, Clay! Different audiences require different tools and methods of communication. Not to mention how you would communicate to your customers and to reporters is largely different. Why wouldn’t companies want to send information that’s geared specifically for reporters?
I think the Shareaholic example is an outlier. I think blogs CAN work – but you have to make sure your reporter contacts are open to that. And, you still have to let them know.