Is The Press Release Going Away?


Every day, hundreds of press releases are sent to news outlets around the United States with the goal of getting a company’s new and noteworthy information out into the organic media stratosphere. But the truth is that many companies put out press releases without much thought or intention behind “the why.” Instead, they lean on the historical belief that when you have company news, you jump to create a press release, send it out to the masses, it gets picked up, and that’s that. Done and dusted. After this “tried and true” method is put to the test, I’ve come to find that 9 out of 10 companies relying on a traditional press release strategy come asking: “why didn’t my news get coverage?” Sigh. As a public relations professional with the goal of getting my clients organic news coverage, it’s important for me to analyze an announcement’s media strategy and supporting tactics before I dive into execution–and I have to tell you, a lot of times, a press release isn’t your best move. Here’s why.

Is the press release going away?

Short answer: kind of, sort of, maybe. Long answer: let’s get into it… The press release has long been considered a viable communication vehicle to pack as much information as possible into a written piece. Most PR professionals take the systematic approach that each paragraph has a specific purpose:
  • Opening paragraph introduces the issue and gets the nitty gritty, interesting information up front
  • Second paragraph is a quote from the company
  • Third paragraph supports the news with other information that’s important but not important enough to be in the opener
  • Fourth paragraph is either a quote from a partner or another supporting paragraph
  • And you end with a call to action and the company’s boilerplate 
But in a world where short form, tidbit style writing is the consumer preference and video content is king, this formulaic, longer form, multi-paragraph writing style is often considered outdated and/or unnecessary. Couple this knowledge with the fact that many companies put out a press release for any minor announcement, and you have a problem mounting on your PR front. I once heard a reporter say, “If you can’t deliver your big news in one sentence, it’s not really news.” I felt that sentiment deep in my bones to the point where I wrote a blog post about how to gauge if news truly is newsworthy.  So, with all of this in mind, the next question might be: if not a press release, then what?

How to get your news out without a press release

In 2021, and I expect beyond 2021, getting creative with your media strategy to reach the masses is a must. We live in the reality that something as simple as a 15 second TikTok video has the power to change a person’s perception of something – which opens up our PR toolbox immensely. I recently did a client presentation on the current state of PR and made a non-exhaustive list of ways to get news out in various formats. Here is where that list landed:
  • Influencer partnerships
  • White papers
  • Advertorials
  • By-line articles or opinion pieces
  • Media advisories
  • Social media mentions or posts (note: one in five US adults gets their news from a social media site…)
  • Blogging
  • Your e-newsletter
  • Product drops
  • Press conferences
  • Direct media pitches
  • Experiential events
  • Expertise offered on a speaking panel
  • Interviews for print, tv, or radio
  • And yes, press releases (there still is a limited time and place for them)
Once you look at all of the ways you can get your news out, looking at the announcement itself is an important next step to define which tactic(s) should be part of your strategy. For example, if you are a food brand and have some new research coming out about the great brain health benefits of your product, some press release alternatives for your media strategy could include:
  • A media pitch letter offering an interview with the researcher(s)
  • A product drop to influencers with a note about the new research that includes your social media handles for if they decide to share it on their personal page
  • A blog about the health benefits that lives on your website – you can also link to this blog post in the media pitch letter to lend credibility
  • A Twitter DM strategy to let health writers know about this new research, along with an offer to send product for them to try firsthand
  • And social media posts touting the health benefits to your already engaged audience
Bada boom, bada bing – instead of just issuing a press release and hoping for the best, you have five other tactics that are viable options for getting eyes on your news. Win!

Is there still a time and place for the press release?

While we don’t recommend the press release as the only tactic you go after media mentions or consumer interest with, there is still a time and place for it. A press release is a great thing to house on your website so anyone visiting can learn about your news firsthand. The reason? Because you control the narrative of the press release and therefore, it living in your news section makes a ton of sense. It won’t be cut or swiss cheesed to fit in a certain amount of characters on a website or in print, so you know that your whole message will live there rent free and help tell your story thoroughly. 

Keeping up with the Joneses

As it seems with everything in marketing these days, the media cycle is constantly changing, and the need to keep up with trends is crucial to keep your brand relevant, with eyes on it. Instead of resolving  to never write a press release again, we recommend taking a look at your PR strategy and refreshing it where possible. It could be as simple as asking yourself one extra question (is the best way to share this news?) before you jump into media material writing next time around. If you are struggling to see beyond the press release and need help with your public relations approach, get in touch with our PR team for everything from strategic help to media tactic execution.  +++

About Ethos

Ethos is a multiplatform branding agency that develops and executes integrated marketing campaigns across multiple channels for companies throughout the Northeast and beyond. At Ethos, we believe that the most effective way to set a company’s marketing course is by finding its core truth – it’s ethos. We know that once we discover and communicate that core truth, we can truly make a difference to each client’s unique marketing and business objectives. With Ethos, you get more than a Maine branding agency. You get a long-term partner whose goals are your goals. Learn more about the Ethos approach and the work we’ve done for our clients. Want to have a conversation about your brand’s core truth? Contact us!
Written By

The ETHOS Team