The rules for press releases have changed. But most old-line PR professionals and nearly all PR agencies don't even know it yet. The change has been slow and imperceptible and practitioners adhering to the old rules either don’t know about the new rules or they won’t change.
In the old days, a press release was actually a release to the press. Everybody knew that the reason you issued a press release was to get the media to write about you. Nobody saw the actual press release except a handful of reporters and editors. The old rules said that you had to have significant news before you could write a release. The old rules demanded quotes in the release from third-parties.
While all PR people understand that press releases sent over the wires appear in near real-time on services like Google News, very few understand the implications for how they should dramatically alter their press release strategy as a result.
The media has been disintermediated. Yes, mainstream media is still important. And if you get a story about your organization placed, great! But why wait? Why spend tens of thousands of dollars on a media relations agency? Just send press releases instead and reach your constituents directly.
Here’s all you need to do: Write press releases and cerate a press release strategy that targets your buyers and customers. Instead of sending press releases only when “big news” is happening, send press releases all the time.
Yes, the media still looks at press releases, but your primary audience is not a handful of journalists. Your audience is millions of people with an Internet connection and access to a search engine and RSS readers.
Press releases are great search engine fodder.
Write releases with keyword-rich copy. Insert the words and phrases that your buyers use when they want to reach you into your releases. Include links in releases to landing pages on your Web site.
What should you write releases on as you make this shift? Just about anything that your organization is doing. Is the CEO speaking at a conference? Write a release. Did you just publish a paper? Write a release. Win an award lately? Write a release. Add a product feature? Write a release.
The rules for press releases have changed. Ignore the rules at your own peril.