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Is the Media Release Dead and Buried?

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Is the Media Release Dead and Buried?

Contacting the media? Let me count the ways. There’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, phone, DM, online contact form, online distribution portals, email and the good old fashion way of snail mail.

The tried and true method of getting a story in front of a journalist is a media release but with all these different ways of communicating with the media, is it still relevant? 

PR over the past five years has changed a lot – it’s no longer about sending a release and media wins flow. You have to do the work to get the story over the line, and you have to have a robust PR and marketing strategy that taps into multiple tools to help you get noticed.

Journalist and PR consultant Nadine McGrath says yes. “Especially for time-poor journalists and other content providers. However, I think it needs to be kept to the point (as it should have always been) and accompanied by a quick email pitch. I do miss the days when a journo would actually answer the phone,” she said.

Communications specialist Jane Speechley believes media releases still have a place in PR but to a point. “We still put media statements out but usually to make a point to government or industry or get our thoughts on the public record. If we really want media coverage, we inevitably get better results from direct pitches. I put less emphasis on media coverage these days as our own(ed) audiences are so big,” she said.

Before you go off to write your media release or pay someone to do it for you, think about what you want to achieve.

Media releases are good for timely news like product launches, events, winning an award, new appointments or responding to issues in your industry.

Many organisations use media releases for SEO. It is all about the backlinks (although building high-quality backlinks can be hard).  By distributing through online portals for news sites, a well-written release can give you quality links. But stuff it up, and you can get penalised.

The challenge is when you want a media outlet to run your web address for backlinks – remember, the media is not there to market your business, they are there to share newsworthy stories.

Branding expert Lauren Clemett says with the media so fractured and more difficult to leverage, one appearance from a media release in a major metro is not enough.  “You now need to be in all sorts of media that your ideal audience is absorbing. It is not impossible; it just takes more skill and time to do so. You need a really well-targeted strategy and an awesome story, plus a lot more patience,” she said.

Because we absorb news differently now, having more than a trusty media release to get our story out there is important.

Here are five ways to get your story out there WITHOUT a media release:

1. ARTICLE – write a quality editorial piece to share your knowledge. You get the kudos for appearing in a quality publication, backlinks with your bio and an opportunity to share your expertise and knowledge. There are many big-name online publications that are always looking for great news content.

2. HOW TO/LISTS – make sure the content is relevant to the publication’s audience. This is another way to showcase your expertise to an audience outside your blog or owned media.

3. OPINION PIECES – share your thoughts on a topic or issue. Remember the Letters To The Editor, similar concept. Business publications are always looking for insights and thoughts into current business issues and topics.

4. MEDIA RELEASE HACK – sometimes it is better to cut to the chase and pitch the story direct to the journalist. Just cover off on the facts – who, what, when, where, how and why – and see if the journalist wants to pursue the story further. You can pitch through social media or directly to the journalist’s email.

5. PODCASTS/VIDEOS – Lauren says “Few people read a newspaper from cover to cover anymore, more people watch a 15-second video on Instagram or listen to a podcast, ‘communication” means we are listening to less radio on their way to work instead, choosing our own networks of podcasts and sourcing stories. It is more important than ever that you look at the big picture and know exactly how you want to position your brand, or you will waste oodles of time and money on ‘knee-jerk’ PR.”

The moral of the PR story is – don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Use a variety of strategies to get your story out there.

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