The Press Release Is Not A Panacea! When To Use (And Not Use) Your Favorite Communications Tool

Posted on May 9, 2013 by Caitlin C

Use a Press Release to Announce a New BusinessIf you’re a small business owner, you’ve likely hired press release writers at some point to put together a well-crafted statement about your company. When done correctly, press releases can be a great way to advertise your business and create a greater audience for your product. But sometimes press releases fail. What separates the good from the bad, and how can you make sure to get the most impact from your press releases?

Timeliness

Before assigning a press release, ask yourself if you have something truly timely to communicate about your business. Examples of topics that make for stellar press releases include:

  • Announcing the start of a new business.
  • Announcing a newly added product or service.
  • Inviting customers or media personnel to an event, like a fundraiser or ribbon-cutting.
  • Communicating leadership changes that affect the direction or philosophy of the company.
  • Spreading locally reported news about your company to a wider audience.

Call to Action

In addition to being timely, your press release should also include a clear call to action. Press releases are designed for media professionals to get all the information they need to report on newsworthy aspects of your business. By including clear directives, you retain greater control over your message. Be sure to advise your press release writers to avoid coming off as bossy or rude, however. A calm, neutral tone is key for respectfully communicating your company’s call to action.

When NOT to Use a Press Release

While press releases have been used for decades, they are not always the best choice for communicating. If you don’t have an event, new product, or otherwise timely information for your customers and partners, a press release can come off as unfocused and confusing. The old journalism tenet of asking yourself the 5 Ws is a good way to double check the newsworthiness of your press release. If you can’t provide your writer with the basic information—who, what, why, when, and where—then you should probably reconsider assigning the press release.

Press Release Alternatives

Fortunately, there are more options than ever before when it comes to communicating your company’s message to the world:

  • Social Media Post. Perfect for short updates that don’t require a lot of explanation, posts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and even Instagram can communicate a lot of information in just a few characters.
  • Email Newsletter. Why bother with a press release if you have a good roster of customer emails? Consider crafting a regularly distributed newsletter highlighting news and updates and avoid spending time on old-fashioned media channels altogether.
  • Blog Post. A well-written, regularly updated blog can drive customers to your company’s site in a way that a press release simply can’t. Blog posts can combine information, news, and humor, and you can maximize their impact by promoting posts via social media and growing your online base.

Caitlin C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.


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