Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Looking for an alternatives to press releases

Amy Gahran continues her campaign against the humble press release. Karen Sams has a informative post about the use of RSS.

Neither addresses the problem I and my clients face, how do you get the word out about a small company or small organization that few have heard about? How do you publicize their activity without a press release?

Nooked may be part of the answer.

Edit-
The press release is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.
A more humorous take.

11 comments:

Amy said...

Hi. Thanks for linking to my article.

You asked, "How do you get the word out about a small company or small organization that few have heard about? How do you publicize their activity without a press release?"

Well, an easy and surprisingly effective way to do this is to actively join the parts of the public conversation most relevant to your target audience. This means learning to make the most of conversational media: weblogs, forums, e-mail lists, talk radio, etc. Go wherever your target audience is gathering and get involved in their conversations.

...Also, I don't agree that press releases are "humble." I generally find them rather stilted and pompous -- but that's just my take.

- Amy Gahran
http://rightconversation.com

Alice said...

Since you found my comment from a link to your blog, you might give me credit for having worked out the blog part. Curiously enough I also know about email discussion groups and other parts of the conversation.

I still don't see how any of that substitutes for a press release.

Amy said...

Well, first of all, most press releases that get sent to journalists are *completely ignored.*
This happens even to the well written and newsworthy ones.

Journalists hate sifting through press releases. It's more effective and faster to search online for leads.

So, for starters, most of the time a press release is a complete waste of effort. And that trend is only going to become *more* common, not less.

In contrast, getting involved in existing conversations where your target audience is directly builds relationships.

Also, you can still publish your own news and information -- just don't package it in press release format. I describe how to do that in these articles:

"Rethinking Releases: Who's Your Audience?"
- http://snipurl.com/lirs

"Search Releases: Not just for audiences, but journalists too."
- http://snipurl.com/lne1

Hope this helps,

- Amy Gahran
Contentious.com
RightConversation.com

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry Amy, but you are wrong about press releases. I have been a journalist for close to 10 years and am managing editor for a newspaper. While it does take time to sift through press releases, they do serve their purpose by providing me with the information I need about a particular event, business, etc. ... that I may want to publish in the paper or cover.

Press releases, even the ones that are written poorly, save journalists time. When I get an e-mail telling me about a particular product or event with a link to a Web site, I ignore it and it's deleted.

Your idea of getting involved in conversations where your target audience is to build relationships, is a good idea for PR consultants. But it should be used in addition to a press release. Journalists want the information written down and infront of them.

Our time is limited, so having the facts infront of us, saves us time!

Where did you get your information from?

Alice said...

Anonymous, thank you for your kind words.

Amy said...

Anonymous, I got my information about the ineffectiveness and counterproductiveness of press releases from nearly every journalist I've spoken to on this topic -- which is more than 100, representing many types of mainstream and niche news venues.

I respectfully submit that your preference for sifting through releases is becoming increasingly exceptional -- a trend that will only predominate over time. Especially as more longtime journalists retire or otherwise leave the field -- something that's happening with surprising speed.

- Amy Gahran
Contentious.com
RightConversation.com

Kami Huyse, APR said...

Of course, Derek Rose of the New York Daily News said in the comments of my entry (the link in this post to "a humorous take," thanks for mention Allison) that he still needs and uses press releases daily.

My other hat is a B2B trade magazine editor and I need press releases too.

Amy is right to say that the information can be obtained many ways, but most reporters are used to the press release and use them, especially since you can get them in soft format and you don't have to do a lot of retyping, just editing.

As for how to get coverage without a press release, I think a well-placed pitch and developing relationships with key media is the key. But I think one shoudl have a press release handy when your contact says, "Could you send me a release about that?" You could send bullet points or some other information, but it better be easily digestable.

Amy said...

Kami wrote: "One should have a press release handy when your contact says, 'Could you send me a release about that?' You could send bullet points or some other information, but it better be easily digestable."

Well, yes, it's always a good idea to have ready, digestible information for the media.

However, many reporters ask for a press release because they don't know (or don't think) that PR people know how to deliver information in more useful ways.

A fact sheet, tip sheet, list of bullet points, contact list, etc. is far more useful to reporters than the stodgy old fake-story format that requires a fair amount of interpretation.

If you give reporters information that's truly useful to them, that's a great way to foster constructive relationships with them.

IMHO, of course.

- Amy Gahran
Contentious.com
RightConversation.com

Alice said...

Well, first of all, most press releases that get sent to journalists are *completely ignored.*

True. Most TV commercials are zapped by the remote control, most magazine advertising is ignored, most direct mail is trashed unopened and most press releases are deleted unopened. But that does not mean you don't send them. It just means you spend extra time crafting that crucial subject line and targeting to those journalists most likely to use them.

I don't think we should be ideological about this. We have a lot of tools now we did not have before, so we need to be using those tools. But to discard the press release just to be discarding it, that does not make sense.

For example, on the news section of your corporate site, you can put your press releases and then pitch them to bloggers. Bloggers will link to them if they are the sort of thing that would interest their readers.

Reporters often want to look at your old press releases when doing a story on your company.

The phone did not replace the postal service, email did not replace fax machines, fax machines did not replace couriers and online forums, blogs, etc. do not replace the press release.

Alice said...

Kami Huyse, thank your for writing a very entertaining post.

Kami Huyse, APR said...

Do you build relationships with the media by calling them, and the way they work, irrelevant? I think it is better to be of service and get the media whatever they need, in whatever form they ask. The key is knowing what they want and having a handle on new methods, the rest is just a bunch of talk.