How to Determine If You Need a Press Release
Ronjini Joshua, Principal of The Silver Telegram

Many say that the press release is dead. While, I get where they were coming from I don’t necessarily agree. There is a time and place for a press release and the over/misuse of press releases have given them a bad name. That said, when I speak with media contacts (which I do daily), “send me the press release” is a common phrase that escapes their lips.

The press release is not just an announcement but a source of facts for press to report news quickly and efficiently. If you can create it that way and pair that with a compelling story, you may just have a winning press release on your hands. The real question is if and when should you create a press release. To help navigate these, here’s a brief guide on the do’s and don’ts when it comes to press releases.

Don’t announce a company launch - This is one of those press releases that just clogs up the internet. Its great that your company launched but why is that significant? This is the perfect type of news to post on a blog, Linkedin and other social media channels, but unless there really is some “news” weaved into the your launch, the fact that you have “arrived” is rarely news.

Do announce a new product - New products are a different story, however. If you’re a gadget or device, this is the perfect place for you to insert details to the press about your product- namely, features, benefits and specs. This also has a consumer audience if you’re looking to encourage sales. Hopefully, you have reached out to the media in preview of this announcement but if not, this announcement gives you a very good channel to request reviews.

Don’t announce a new website - Since when did putting up a website become news? Maybe if you’re Facebook that makes sense, but if you’re a startup and your website is not your product, I would rethink your strategy. Great, you have a brand new look, but you’ll just annoy journalists if you email them about this as “news”.

Do announce significant milestones - Milestones and numbers are always compelling. Make sure they are big enough to turn heads though. While 1000 downloads seems like a big deal when you’re starting off, look at the bigger industry picture to really gage it. To determine this, you may want to do some research. $1-3M in funding is typically not a compelling story. Gage the audience before turning this into news.

Don’t announce executives unless they already have compelling industry leadership - I’m not sure how many times I’ve been asked to create appointment announcements for people that no one has ever heard of. Not compelling. Yet, if you’ve got an industry leader on your team, go for it. If you’ve got a really cool person that has no significant following, stick to sharing that on the blog or via social media.

Do announce significant partnerships and case studies - I like to group this effort into three’s to make a greater impact and give reporters some selection. Make sure when you have partner announcements or something similar, it moves the needle in the industry. Make sure they are positive stories and your partners are also willing to speak with the press. These are great for trade media coverage.

All in all, there is a time and a place for press releases when they can support your news with facts and figures and serve as PR collateral. Sometimes, like if you are announcing an event, a media alert is much more apropos, and gets the detailed facts over to the press much more effectively. Trust me they appreciate it. Last but not least, it’s great to always have a press kit ready with additional supportive materials like a background on the company, other press releases and images (when appropriate).

With any announcement, you want to make sure you are prepared for questions that may be asked so you can respond to media in a timely manner. Keep in mind that PR is all about being a helpful resource in building a good story!

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