“Press releases no longer work in PR today. They’re an outdated tactic and neither journalists – nor anybody else – bothers looking at them.” You’ll have seen various PR ‘experts’ pushing this narrative. Well sorry, but I beg to differ. And in this post I explain why.
My experience in technology PR is that when used properly, press releases are still very much a go-to PR tool. They’re an effective way of generating PR coverage in national, business and trade media (in online, broadcast and print titles). And believe it or not, they’ve helped me generate high quality backlinks from important publications that marketers crave for their SEO.
Not convinced? Here’s three different tech PR campaigns I’ve worked on in which press releases worked just fine…
3 examples of press releases that have worked
- Brexit search data press release published in UK national news websites
This press release describes a study by our client, Searchmetrics, the search optimisation platform, which was covered by The Times, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Sun and Sky News websites as well as marketing, PR, and media news titles such as MediaPost, Press Gazette and PR Week. The study analysed which major news outlets were most likely to rank highly in Google’s results when Brits searched for news about Brexit. The findings stoked up controversy by suggesting that left leaning sites such The BBC, Independent and The Guardian were most prominent in search results.
- Customer win PR story gets retail and vertical trade media results
This customer win press release highlights the benefits that home furnishings retailer, Industry West, is achieving from using our client Nosto’s ecommerce personalisation technology. It resulted in news articles in retail trade media such as Retail Touchpoints, Retail Technology, Retail Tech Innovation Hub and RISNews as well as in vertical home furnishings trade titles such as Furniture World and Home Furnishings Business. It also bagged a podcast interview in US retail trade mag Total Retail and a case study in Destination CRM.
- IT chiefs survey press release hits tech trade media
This is a press release for software company, Macro 4, which was covered by UK technology trade publications such as Computer Weekly, Information Age, Computer Business Review, SC Magazine, HelpNet Security, Data Centre Solutions and more. The announcement discussed the findings of a survey of IT chiefs in UK enterprises identifying a key challenge that Macro 4’s technology addresses. It reveals that the majority of UK businesses are keeping aging legacy applications running despite knowing that it ties up budget and resources while creating security and compliance risks.
So, there you have it. If done right, journos (even those in top tier media) very much still do use press releases.
Releases have helped me generate client coverage in the Wall Street Journal, BBC National Radio and more. I’ve even had IT industry analysts and reporters responding after seeing CloudNine PR’s client press releases on wire services. And not so long ago, one of my clients got a new business lead from a prospect who saw a press release we placed on a wire.
Tips to get the most out of your press release
Of course a press release is just a tool. If you don’t use it properly, you’ll get rubbish results. So here’s a quick summary of some of the key questions it’s important to ask when planning a press release.
- Is the subject of my press release actually newsworthy? Too often PRs feel pressured to send out press releases which in their heart of hearts they know would not be considered news. Is the new product or technology you are announcing in your release genuinely different? Does your customer press release say anything new, interesting and topical that others can learn from? And if you are releasing new data or a survey, does it highlight insights that are surprising, worrying or educational for businesses in your sector, for example?
- Is the style right for the media you are targeting? The language, tone and level of technical detail in your press release should suit the publications you are aiming at. Which means reporters should be able to pick out the news from the release immediately and not have to work too hard to use the information when putting together their own stories or articles. When thinking about style and tone, it goes without saying that your release should not read like promotional copy or brochureware!
- Does my release cover all the key details without obvious gaps? Editors are busier than ever today. If important info is missing, it’s just another reason to dismiss your release. That’s not to say that some reporters won’t want to dig further and ask for additional detail to create their own story angle. So, make sure you have a spokesperson lined up in case a journalist want to ask more questions.
- Do I need to send tailored versions of the press release to different media sectors? If you are targeting a range of media – say technical trade titles, national newspapers and verticals – ideally your should create tailored versions for each sector. At the very least you should send a tailored introductory email with your release to highlight the key aspects of the story that are most relevant to each editor /publication. Try to do this in a couple of paragraphs or some short bullets.
- Do I need to give exclusives or advanced info to key editors? Some key publications in your sector may be more likely to cover your story if they can run it ahead of others as an exclusive. You need to give the release to them in advance before it goes anywhere else. When doing this, be specific about when the release will be sent to the other editors so they know the time window of the exclusive. Often, it’s a lead publication in your sector that’s best to target with an exclusive (for example TechCrunch in the tech startup sector). Or it could be a top tier business title such as Insider. Or a key editor on a national newspaper such as the technology, retail, consumer affairs or banking/finance correspondent. CloudNine PR gave an exclusive to the European technology editor at to help get this story from Searchmetrics covered by The Wall Street Journa).