Let's Do Away With Press ReleasesBy: Andy Marken
If there's one universal statement we hear as public relations professionals, it's that editors seldom look through the stacks of news releases they receive. The electronic form is just as bad because they can more rapidly hit the garbage can simply by looking at the name/subject. When they do, they find that the majority are a waste of time, money of and effort.
All too often, their disdain is well-founded.
Many editors receive 800 to 1,000 releases a month, a large percentage of which don't even relate to the editorial direction of their publications. Even if a release is pertinent to the publication, many are written so poorly that they defy the editor to find the news.
Nevertheless, the volume of press releases continues to increase. With the Internet the volume has increased sharply because it is extremely easy and very economic to send a release to hundreds if not thousands of editors with the right spam mail software. Perhaps it's because they take very little time to produce and require very little creativity. Anyone who has ever written a book report or a memo is certain that he or she can write a press release.
If the editor must wade through a stack of such profound corporate pronouncements to find the few that are really newsworthy, it's little wonder that your release wasn't printed. After all, it was probably sandwiched between the latest "corporate reorganization that will prepare the company for the next generation of new products" and the "new product that is so easy to use that your mother-in-law could balance the federal budget with it."
Don't blame the harried editor for not finding the rose among the brambles.
Expand Your Horizons
If you're truly interested in expanding your horizons and doing a better job for your company or clients, you need to look beyond the lowly news release. There are many other ways to effectively get your message across to the media and your target audiences.
Here are some proven concepts you can use to get your message across:
Media Alert. If your organization is going to be doing something that's clearly newsworthy, don't bury the facts in a drawn-out press release. Use a media alert -- a short, punchy announcement of who, what, when, where and why -- designed to catch the attention of the press.As you can see from the above list, there are some excellent replacements for the overused and abused press release.
They require a lot more creative effort than a school term paper,
interoffice memo or standard two-page news release.
Go Beyond Releases
However, in each instance, these tools do a much better jobof positioning the company and its products/services. They strengthen the company's relationships with its customers and the editorial community. In addition, because the coverage is generally greater than that garnered by a standard release, these tools can also be used to enhance the the company's image and its credibility in the marketplace.
Yes, there are times when product, personnel, earnings or contract releases are sufficient. And, when that time is right, by all means, use the release. But don't try to make a simple announcement bigger than it is. Take a straightforward, professional approach in developing the release and send it to the appropriate editors and publications. Whenever possible, try something different to reach the harried editors. They'll thank you for it. Your boss will thank you for it. And the people who take the trash out at night will thank you.
© Copyright 1999, G.A.Marken, Marken Communications
The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.