Why you still need the press release

I’ve heard it said, and seen it written, that the traditional press release has had its day. It may no longer be the only way of sharing something with the media. But that is a far cry from it being of no value.  And here’s why.

If, on behalf of your firm, you try to announce anything to anyone, or even express an opinion publicly, you can get into difficultly quite quickly. You’ll need to cover the basics of who, when, why, where and what. But what you say and what you want people to understand might be up for some discussion.

There’s a chance that not everyone you’re working with will agree with you. Even if you’re working alone you might not be clear about what you want to say. And then there are different messages that will apply to different audiences.

So, how can you be sure your announcement is clear, concise, reasoned and backed by the people who will burn you if you get it wrong? You get a statement set down clearly in a press release. This gets things straight in your head and it means that everyone involved in making and supporting your statement, internally and externally, have a pre-agreed form of words to which they can refer.

Notice I say write it and didn’t say send it. The process of getting people to condense a story, and one that might be complicated, into simple statements for use on your website, to send to the media or to share with colleagues, starts with answering those five ‘W’ questions.  

The process of doing this can be more 

valuable than the result.


 

Write it down

Agree the facts in a statement:

  • Write one for each audience that you need to address.
  • Make sure you cover the who, what, when, where and why in no more words than you need to use and encourage those that need to approve the words to contribute their thoughts.
  • Ask what they want and don’t want to say to each audience.
  • When it’s written, check that you’ve included the essentials that make the statement valuable.
  • Have you said what you needed to say?
  • Have you kept within any limits (commercial and personal sensitivities) that you were given?
  • Yes? Then get it signed off.

 

Where will it go?

Throughout the process of committing to a form of words you’ll be thinking about what you’re going to do with it. You might consider:

  • Sending it to the relevant media, including contact details and an offer of an interview;
  • Sending a different version out to for each audience (customers in different sectors read different press)
  • Making it into an article for your website and pulling traffic to it via twitter and LinkedIn;
  • Putting on your website, as is, and tweeting about your new release;

Keeping it on file, and referring to it only when you’re asked questions is perfectly legitimate, especially when it’s about sensitive information, such as redundancies, takeovers and closures. In this case, the value of the release is that you’ve got a pre-approved form of words to hand and, as long as you stay within the words of release, you can answer questions without hesitating.

Lastly, if it’s a big enough story, it’s worth using a newswire as a way of getting your story to proliferate across the web with a matter of hours, rather than days. But you might need some help with that.

Remember, the process of creating a release is an invaluable way of getting people to agree, and speak together, on something.