Is it time to retire the good old media release?

If there was one ‘must-have’ item in every PR practitioner’s arsenal, it would be the good old media release. It’s controlled, it captures key messages and it allows you to reach a wide audience.

But a media release isn’t a PR ‘silver bullet’. You can’t turn just anything into a media release. It has to be considered as part of the broader communications mix. Moreover, it has to actually be news.

Here are some questions Honner asks when considering a media release:

Is it news? – What may seem like news from a business perspective will not always be news from a journalist’s perspective. For example, an anniversary is not necessarily newsworthy enough on its own. But incorporating some additional business updates or forecasts can create something more compelling. Nothing to add? You may wish to consider an internal announcement or article for your client newsletter instead.

Is it the best use of time? – A press release has the potential to deliver your message to multiple outlets without taking up too much of a spokesperson’s time. However, on the flipside, if your business’ sign-off process is plagued with delays, an informal interview pitch and phone interview could be a better option.

Would a conversation help? – Some matters are too complex to be expressed neatly in a one-page media release. And in some instances, a sit-down with a journalist can be a worthwhile investment in a future relationship. Consider whether a discussion would be more useful and whether you’re willing to invest time in getting out and meeting journalists.

Is there a better option? – Some updates and milestones are more suited to other formats or channels. For example, an internal system or software update might be more suited to an employee newsletter, while a fundraising event recap might be best placed in your client newsletter. And don’t forget your company blog – it can serve as the perfect platform for sharing ‘softer’ company news, which can then be shared via social media.

Is it too much, too often? – Another consideration has to be whether you really need to make this announcement. The best communications programs focus on a sustainable flow of business updates. Dowse the media with mediocre announcements and you run the risk of journalist-fatigue. The key is to stagger, not saturate. Save your media releases for big news, not hum-drum.

The fact is, we still get great results from well-crafted and relevant media releases. They can create a sense of ‘news’ that other approaches can’t always achieve. However, it’s by no means the only way to tell your story to the market and is not the answer to every PR question.