THIS POST WILL SAVE YOU $000s IN PR RETAINER FEES
If you’re paying a public relations agency thousands of dollars to issue and follow up press releases this post will explain how you can save money and increase your chances of achieving commercially-valuable media coverage. What’s more you will be able to measure the commercial impact of the coverage.
IS PRESS RELEASE DISTRIBUTION DEAD?
This post started with an exchange in the IABC weekly twitter chat, which uses the hashtag #commchat. The topic was “trends in PR“. The first question was whether participants thought the press release distribution was dead and whether it was an effective tool for publishing news.
Read my post on the difference between press releases, news releases
and media information here
CROSSING THE WIRE
The public relations industry has been debating this question for many years. For publicly traded companies news or press release distrubtion via a wire service serves a valuable role for compliance purposes. Mass distribution of news via a press release demonstrates that information was provided to all stakeholders at the same time – hence the often used term that a release ‘crossed the wire’ at a time. It’s a date stamp that can be shown to financial regulators in the event there is an investigation.
INCREASING BILLABLE HOURS
For privately held companies news release distribution serves little purpose. It’s just that it has been the staple for agencies for many decades. Why has it been a staple? Because it underpins an agencies primary activity – media outreach. The more hours an agency spends following up press releases the more billable hours there are. The more billable hours, the more money it can charge its clients.
TWO-WAY CONVERSATIONS & MUTUAL BENEFIT
Making this point in the chat, Bill Spaniel responded that the primary role of a news release was, “to entice the recipient (whether journo or other) to contact the sender”. This initiates 2-way conversation & usually a better story for the journo.” I agree with him. But the reality is that it doesn’t work like that. If it did agencies wouldn’t charge clients for follow up. In many cases media outreach (following up a press release) accounts for the bulk of a monthly retainer fee.
MISUNDERSTANDING THE MEDIA
The problem is that using a news release in this way fundamentally misunderstands how the media works; how they find and develop stories (known as news gathering) and the hierarchy of a newsroom. There is also a far more effective way to start a two-way conversation with journalists, which increases your chances of both parties getting what they want. Journalists want a compelling story (ideally that no other media outlet has – known as a “scoop”), while businesses want commercially-valuable media coverage. Media coverage that they can measure the commercial impact of for their business.
A BETTER WAY
You can get the COMMS.BAR media toolkit, complete with tips, tricks, resources and tools, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org