Debate on whether or not the press release is dead isn’t cut and dry. Business executives don’t know that the press release is dead, since it’s a relatively new concept to not issue them after years of press releases being the staple of public relations. That’s why we’re here to tell you to stop writing them… ASAP.
We’ll take you through how much you’re really spending on press releases, issues with press releases and solutions for ways you can still secure coverage and value from new business announcements without a press release as collateral.
Press releases started off as a hard copy, something you would fax to your target media outlets. The days have since changed, and now thousands of press releases are distributed every single day. That means your news hook that you thought was compelling is getting caught amongst the noise. The truth is that your press releases are a waste of time, energy, money, and risk sabotaging your integrated digital efforts.
Breaking Down The Cost Of A Press Release
- Time: let’s say, on average, a press release takes 5 hours to write, revise, get approvals and upload on the wire. More time would be included if there are other brands or partners in the release that need to approve the content or provide quotes. If you’re paying a PR agency, this would probably cost a minimum of $500 and up to $1,000 for one release.
- Distribution fees: to give you an idea, a minimum, bare-bones distribution fee is around $500. If you’re looking for more reach and capabilities, the price of your press release could reach upwards of $2,000.
Keeping the prices outlined above in mind, if we take the average of these costs, removing one press release could save you $2,000 on average. To qualify that expense on a larger scale, if your company issues press releases on a regular basis like once a month, that means in one year you’re spending $24,000 on press releases that most likely are not moving the needle for your business.
If you are ROI-focused, the $24,000 price of your monthly press releases could be better allocated on ad spend or SEO marketing services, which are more likely to move the needle in terms of conversions.
Problem: If you don’t have a PR push behind your press release, it’s doing nothing
People think distributing a release over the wire means getting your story or announcement picked up organically without any added effort, but it doesn’t always work that way. If you have something incredibly compelling that an editor happens to stumble upon and flag it might work, but nine times out of 10 it doesn’t. Instead of writing a press release or hiring a PR pro to write it for you and then distributing over the wire, there are other ways to get press and public attention more effectively. Ultimately, a press release should never be a stand-alone service.
Solution: Keep your announcement on your website, don’t distribute a release
If you have something newsworthy that is deserving of an announcement, put the announcement on your company blog. You can even write an announcement that is formatted like a press release but is not ultimately distributed over the wire. PR pros can pitch the content to editors directly in the form of either a blog post or an announcement to secure coverage and backlinks to your site, not to a distribution service that is hosting your release.
Strategically pitching an announcement to specific editors who cover similar topics will more likely secure you coverage than casting a wide net through a distribution service. If you’re trying to get on Forbes, you need to reach out directly to the right editor with the right pitch angle and you won’t need a press release to support your pitch.
Problem: You’re not getting SEO value from press releases
If you have links to your website in your release and think that these links are lending SEO value to your website when republished on another website, think again. The only way you’re getting an SEO-valuable link is with unique content. Republishing a press release verbatim on any website won’t be recognized as a link that distributes link equity (and SEO value) to your website.
At best, you can track your website traffic through the referral traffic that comes through that link and publication. To take this one step further, while trade publications and lower tier media might operate off of the wire and pick up press releases, top tier publications like Forbes, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal need more compelling reasons to cover your business.
Solution: Again, keep your announcement on your site, don’t distribute
If you’re securing links back to a press release that is not living on your website, it is going to do nothing for you in terms of SEO. However, if you have an announcement living on your website and nowhere else and you secure news coverage with a link to the announcement on your website, then you are getting more value because you’re driving awareness to the site as well as SEO equity from the link.
Quick Tips On How To Pitch Sans Release
A few things to keep in mind when you’re pitching top tier, trade, and local press without press release collateral:
- Keep you pitch short; just like people don’t have time to digest a robust press release, they don’t have time to read a page-long email
- Make sure you’re addressing the most important information and keeping your verbiage simple
- Your pitch should be personalized. You should demonstrate the fact that you researched this editor and he or she is a perfect fit; the biggest pet peeve for an editor is having a publicist reach out with something that they do not cover
3 Times Press Releases Work
Ok, we lied. Sometimes press releases are necessary, but only in these instances.
1) If you’re a startup trying to get on the radar
Although media relations is a great way to spread brand awareness, if your main business goals are generating broad brand awareness, attracting investors, or being acquired then a press release can help. Press releases cast a wide net and not always to the most qualified audience, which is why if you want anyone and everyone to hear about your new launch, it might make sense for you. If you need your app to be downloaded, to generate more customers, or are wanting another business to acquire your business, then you should consider actually distributing the press release.
2) If your company received recent funding or is about to close a round of funding
Press releases can be used to share important or newsworthy changes within your business, but not always effectively. If your business recently closed a round of funding, this is a great way to relay that information to top tier publications that you are pitching.
This type of release is important as a matter of record so someone searching about your brand down the line has visibility into your recent funding. It’s also a way to generate brand recognition for additional rounds of funding. These types of press releases should be coupled with point-pitching top tier press and used as additional collateral to share.
3) If your company is publicly traded and must by law disclose quarterly financials
If you have a publicly traded company then you must disclose your quarterly financials, but you are not required to issue press releases for other announcements.
Create a Cohesive Strategy
In summary, never issue a release as a stand-alone initiative and expect to get traction. There should be a PR strategy in place to support any and all press releases and “point pitching” specific editors in conjunction with the release. If you’re looking for SEO value, keep your release on your site and any coverage secured will link directly to the content on your website rather than the distribution service. Be weary of your budgets when allocating towards the traditional wire distribution and make sure it is the best way to move your marketing needle before investing $24,000.
Interested in seeing how a cohesive PR strategy can make an impact without issuing an antiquated press release? We’d love to share our secret sauce with you and help you make the smart decision!