How to Get Your News Out To The World Without Using the Press Release

The press release is dying. Going, going, and almost gone.

That’s the opinion of Jack Glasure, a veteran marketing strategist for Ignition Branding. According to Glasure, who has worked with a diverse roster of clients from oil companies to pro athletes over his 20-plus years in the business, the press release has become obsolete as a tool for small businesses to generate substantive and broad media coverage.

“These days, news is instantaneous, no matter the time of day,” he said. “It used to be that beat reporters would be the first to report breaking stories, but so far, no news agency has figured out a way to beat an eyewitness with a Twitter account and a smartphone to the punch.”

Glasure explained that getting the scoop was the motivating factor for reporters before the Internet was a factor. Today, most news organizations have their hands full just keeping up.

“The landscape of the media has changed dramatically over the years,” Glasure said. “The New York Times family of outlets, which has laid off more than 1,700 workers over the last few years, receives thousands of press releases a day across their network. Do you think anyone is actually reading them all? For that matter, how well do you think your local daily newspaper is faring, with some major dailies scrapping their print version completely in favor of an online-only product?”

While the press release is still effective for medium to large companies to make landmark announcements for important partnerships, product launches or acquisitions, Glasure believes that the practice of using press releases as a primary way to communicate with the media has become too overbearing for the modern media to accommodate.

Moreover, his point that press releases have been commoditized to the point of extinction has teeth, because the reach of the Internet actually serves to extract the news value from the release 10 minutes after it is posted on a service like PRNewswire or BusinessWire.

“Once those releases hit, and they are distributed to all the article banks and PR news sites, they become so ubiquitous that they cease to be actual news,” Glasure added. “That means legitimate news organizations that represent the vanguard of third-party verification in the PR world are no longer interested in them. News editors are forced to ask, ‘Why is this news if it’s already on 20 other sites?’”

So, if the press release is dying, how are small companies supposed to communicate effectively with the media? Glasure’s answer is simply to offer the news media what it really wants.

“You have to remember one thing — using the news media to promote you or your enterprise for free may be a key part of your business plan, but it is not a part of the news media’s business plan,” he said. “From the news media’s perspective, they do not exist to provide coverage for clients of PR agencies. They exist to create compelling content for its audience so that more people will consume it, enabling the media outlet to charge companies high rates to advertise next to that content. Sure, sometimes they’ll ask for the assistance of the PR community, but it’s at their discretion. Just because you send them a news release, it doesn’t obligate them to read it. So, if you want the media’s attention, it makes better sense to send them something they want to read and use. My recommendation is to send content, instead.”

The form Glasure suggests for this content is the expert tips and trends piece. It is comprised of advice based on an executive’s expertise. The good news is that it works for business-to-business or business to consumer interests.

“No matter what you are trying to promote, the best way to drive potential customers to your door is to open up the opportunity for them to see how smart you are about your field,” he said. “The media may not be fond of puff pieces about your company, but if your expertise on a topic can add value to the lives of readers, your company has the chance to be cast as the area expert. Even if you are B2B business, this tactic works, because we all have unread trade publications sitting on our desks, we rarely miss our daily news feeds from the mainstream media. Why do you think your customers are any different from us? They’re not — they are mainstream media consumers. If you are in the mainstream media, they will notice you because your expertise is relevant to their businesses.”