For decades, press releases have been the foundation of public relations.
Used to capture the attention of news reporters and generate positive news coverage, press releases are a key tool for getting a brand in front of a large audience without paying for advertising.
But while press releases can be still useful today, public relations professionals must acknowledge new trends that render the press release less ubiquitous than it once was.
Why is the role of the press release changing?
The rise of internet technology is the main reason that press releases are not as prominent as in previous years.
The internet has given everyone — including public relations professionals — unprecedented access to potential audiences at a very low cost. Content creation and promotion have been democratized, and traditional publishers have struggled to keep up.
Exacerbating these trends is the widespread decline of trust in news media. According to a September 2020 Gallup article by Megan Brenan, 60 percent of Americans have “not very much” trust or “none at all” for mass media such as newspaper, television and radio. This lack of trust presents a problem for brands, who rely on news media to validate their claims in the eyes of consumers.
5 Modern Alternatives to the Traditional Press Release
The result of these shifts is not that the press release is obsolete, but that public relations professionals must think more critically about the potential benefits of sending a press release and consider when an alternative may be more appropriate.
Writing for the Stern Strategy Group, Jennifer Zottola notes, “While the press release as we’ve known – and used – it for decades is in fact dead, it also continues to live on in other forms.” Below are five possible alternatives to sending out a traditional press release.
1. Social media
Organic social media is a simple but powerful way to generate buzz for a brand. Organizations can use hashtags to join larger conversations or connect more personally with their followers.
2. Website announcements
Adding a press announcement section to an organization’s website is a great way to repurpose a press release without needing to change the format significantly.
Zottola writes, “Even if your press release only lives on your website, it becomes part of your brand story and lets visitors know what you’ve accomplished over time.”
3. Email newsletters
When an organization wishes to announce something that primarily applies to people who have interacted with their brand in the past, email newsletters are an effective option for delivering news to current customers, clients and donors.
4. Guest posts
Writing a guest post for a popular blog or publisher builds credibility, boosts search engine optimization, and provides an opportunity for readers to connect more personally with a brand. Guest post writers can weave newsworthy events into their post that link back to announcements on the company’s own website.
5. Company blog
Finally, public relations professionals should not underestimate the power of a strong content marketing strategy. If a company has a popular blog that appears in search engines, public relations professionals can look for opportunities to incorporate press release-like content into educational blog posts.
Brenan, M. (2020, November 09). Americans Remain Distrustful of Mass Media. Retrieved from https://news.gallup.com/poll/321116/americans-remain-distrustful-mass-media.aspx
Zottola, J. (2020, May 04). The Press Release in PR Strategy is Dead. Or Is It? Retrieved from https://insights.sternstrategy.com/press-release-pr-strategy-dead/