Press Release Etiquette: How to Keep From “Crying Wolf”

Sending out a press release for the sake of sending out a press release is never a good tactical part of your overall strategy

Most companies understand the power of a press release as a tool in their PR campaign toolbox to deliver news and information to media.

Many, however, don’t understand how to use a press release effectively, especially today.

Clients so often ask PR companies "to send out at least one press release per month" as part of the strategy. That’s great in theory, but is there enough news to really support sending out so often?

This idea of how to use press releases comes from the days when it could actually be an effective method, even if they were just glanced at and put to the side. There was a sense of branding with the media; a way for them to become familiar with your company. However, in today’s world those press releases often end up in the trash or worse the sender is considered a spammer and their email address is blocked.

It’s the classic “Crying Wolf” scenario. You think it’s a good idea to just bombard media non-stop with messages and press releases, hoping to create awareness with them, only to find that when you really have something important and newsworthy, no one is listening.

Today’s press release is a great tool for online distribution and to boost search, but it’s the boots on the ground engaging with media directly and crafting custom stories for each that makes the difference. And that is when there is a real newsworthy story to tell.

It’s important to note that today’s media professionals are busier than ever and, at the same time, there are more public relations professionals targeting them day in and day out. Sometimes they receive thousands of email pitches in a week – some are not relevant to their beat and others don’t have an interesting news story angle. So, it’s easy to see why media may become frustrated.

Sending out a press release for the sake of sending out a press release is never a good tactical part of your overall strategy. Honestly, it’s a waste of your time, energy and money. Less is more, the saying goes, so invest in what is truly newsworthy about your business and deserves a push to media; something that is sure to be meaningful to all of your audiences and grab media attention. Those three to five big story angles per year with a great headline and meaningful information for their readers.

If your goal is to build relationships with the media, this is one of the best ways to do it. Trust me, they remember people who give them not just good, but great, stories and interviews. They will remember you and be more likely to open the next email pitch you send.

Constantly sending out press releases may get you remembered by media, but not in the positive way you might have hoped.

Jennifer Fortney is President of Cascade Communications, a boutique, virtual PR and marketing communications company in Chicago for small business and startups. In her 17- year career she has worked with top Fortune 500 companies and a wide variety of small businesses and startups across the country, generating millions of media impressions. A Journalism major from The University of Kansas, she has written broadcast news, worked in sports and broadcast marketing, is the PR Instructor at SCORE Chicago and Founder of @MyStorySource live media pitch feed on Twitter and Facebook. She has been tapped as an expert by media including The SpareFoot startup blog, Wells Fargo Small Business and Chicago Tribune. @SmallBizPRXpert

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