I remember the old days of PR.
When I wanted to reach out to the press to share an announcement, I'd run and grab the official company letterhead, print a well-written document explaining the news, and fax it over the newspaper to consider for their next edition. Then I'd wait for the paper to arrive and read it cover to cover to see if it was picked up or not.
We're clearly in a very different world today, and the ease of putting out press stories means the news is now inundated with press releases that didn't need to go through painstaking hours of work to release. There are literally thousands of news stories placed daily onto the newswires, which are emailed to news stations, newspapers, and directly to reporters. Further, the abundance of ways to get direct journalist email addresses means many people skip the wires and simply email them directly with news any time of day.
So what does this mean for press releases?
This means the likelihood of your release being read depends on catching the right person at the right moment with the right story.
More than likely, no one will ever read your press release.
So what's the point anymore?
Press releases are still relevant for large public companies that are required to send out financial information or disclose major business decisions; they are also relevant for major brands that people are waiting to hear from such as Amazon, Google, Apple, Tesla and Facebook.
For small to mid-sized companies things work a bit differently.
Smaller companies can use press releases for a few main reasons.
If you want to try to reach the news, what should you do?
The best way to reach the news for potential features is to send a quick pitch and link them to your press release for more info. Here's an example.
Subject: 60+ grandpa bikes 20 miles a day with toddler
Why does this pitch work?
The goal is to find the right person at the news station to send your pitch to, or you can make it general and talk to the admin who filters stories and distributes them to producers by sending it through the website contact form.
So, the idea is to send quick, snippy paragraphs that sell stories to the news that are digestible and catch their attention.
What other factors should you consider?
A recent example:
I recently provided a press release distribution to a cyber-security company. They had been covered in news previously and were announcing an acquisition in the midst of a pandemic where meeting in person had been difficult due to local health rules. The acquisition was done 100% remotely and created one of the largest MSP providers in the state they operate in. That's big news, and super-timely.
Rather than submit the release publicly on a wire, we sent it directly to the local business news publications during a series of days in the order of importance to the local market.