PR Pains: The Press Release

Best Practices

The press release. Yes, we still do those. The press release is the super expensive, important document PR pros send out to reporters, editors and readers to get the word out about their brand. The ultimate document you can use to share wins, losses, crisis, apologies, all of it, in a super tidy, boring document. I’ve always been intimidated by press releases, which is funny because I’m way bigger and cooler than a piece of paper with words on it. But this isn’t any ordinary news flash. These papers are expensive, get sent to very important people and have crazy writing and formatting rules. I’m writing about this half to be informative, and half to share a good chuckle I received in my inbox this week.

I don’t get tons of press release assignments sent to me at RBM yet simply because I just started building my department and not many of our clients pay for PR yet, but those who do will release some wins in the form of a release from time to time, which is great! I actually get pretty excited about releases. They’re a big project I can get a good hype out of. They carry information that can’t just be zipped through a tweet or Facebook post. To send out a press release (at least the good ones) means a lot of work is coming for everyone involved, big win or not. I’ve had release processes take up to a full month from start to finish, and that’s with me running really, really fast to the deadline. You get the content team involved, the client involved, their partners, the social team, the board members, you wake up with quotes in your hair and emails spilling out your ears, it’s a sh*t show.

This week a client of ours emailed my team member saying, “Heyyy, we have this press release we just wrote up, can you get it out today? 🙂 thanks!”

I laughed. I laughed, and I laughed! I mean, we work pretty fast at RBM, but saying ‘here’s a super rough draft of something’ to any department at a marketing agency usually means several hours of work for at least 3-5 people. Here are the pains of The Press Release:

What kind of pains come with putting out a press release? Find out: #PR Click To Tweet

 

The Hype

The early stages of a press release are always exciting and always naive. I’m super driven, motivated and excited when a press release assignment comes my way. I’m all like, “I’m going to get them SO much coverage and everyone is going to want to cover my release FREE OF CHARGE and the client is going to be so proud, they’re going to extend their contract with RBM and everyone will look at me like a PR Queen.” I’m zipping through websites, collecting contact names and submission forms, SEOing and formatting like a mad woman like…

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Everything, in the beginning, is (generally) pretty smooth, especially if we don’t even have to write the release ourselves. We just have to fact check, format, and line ‘er up in the distribution platform. But with anything in the public’s eye, problems only surface AFTER the release is blasted to every important person on the wire.

I publish blog content for all of our clients too and over the years, I’ve learned all platforms are out to get me and my professional brand. I can edit with hawk eyes like Flint from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs all I want, but there will ALWAYS be issues after the post goes live. The internet is a finicky place, lucky for me, I can fix the blogs. Blogs are fine. Nobody has to know. Press releases are different, you have to find out from coworkers or even worse, the client, and call support like:

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Just kidding, I’m always very polite to the lovely support team we work with for our PRsystem.

 

Distribution and then some…

Your press release goes live, you pop the champagne and streamers go flying…well, everyone else celebrates while you scurry back to your desk with your confetti-filled champagne glass and continue the pitch to editors and outlets to cover the news you just released. Press releases are expensive and important. To plop it on a wire and call it a day is lazy PR. You blast that all over the internet like it’s the next Nike swoosh, girl. Post it on the client blog, zip it to free PR sites for ‘gimme’ SEO, tweet it, link it, get excited about it. After all, these people pay your bills. And if you care about your shiny new shoes, you best get more than pumped about all your client’s wins. Your hype will bleed through your messaging to outlets, and you too, can win. The sad truth? You’re going to have a 60-80% ignore rate. But once you do, you get back up and keep pitching it, keep hyping it because SOMEONE has to pick it up.

In the case, they don’t? You can celebrate at the end of the day knowing you did your darn best.

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