Media Relations, Press Releases, News Items: What Do I Need?
02.12.2018 / Posted in Media Relations
How casually it’s thrown out: We need to issue a press release.
Well, look. Probably not.
Sometimes, sure. But not always.
And, you see, it depends.
No question, companies need to spread the word as far and as wide as possible about their latest events and updates—including internally, to their staff teams. However, in most cases, companies are better off spreading the word through channels they own and control: Their websites, their social media, their e-mail marketing, their advertising campaigns, their conference appearances and events, their direct mail and out-of-home activities, and so on.
Companies do not control the news media. (Well, by and large. But that debate is an entirely different article.)
Of course, part of the reason that companies want the media to cover their news is that the media is an independent channel that they do not control. And the media’s independence is validating and important when they cover your news.
However, unless you are a large public company, your addition of a new member to the executive team—for example—is not newsworthy beyond perhaps the trade press and local business journal. And if it is newsworthy, or you want to make it so, the story you need to couch it in needs to be bigger, broader, and weightier than a simple press release about company XYZ hiring person ABC can possibly be.
And that story? You don’t seed it with the news media by issuing a press release, anyway. You do proper media relations for that.
Let’s do a little review of media relations 101 in which we define some terms.
Definition: Press Release
Issue a press release when you have breaking news tied to a specific date. On or just after the date, you can announce the news, issue the release via a newswire or your media contact lists, or both.
If you send a press release via a wire, expect to spend money beyond the service investments needed for your media relations and marketing teams to accommodate the wire expense, which can run into the thousands of dollars depending upon the reach you define with the wire service. If you release news via wires often, expect to allocate significant budget toward this line item on your annual marketing plan.
Given the cost of news wires, companies should honestly assess how interesting their breaking news truly might be to journalists and media outlets. A news item (described below) is the best bet in most cases.
Definition: Media Relations
Media relations refers to the work involved in getting the media—editors, journalists, producers—interested in stories about your company and its products.
In flavor, media relations is a sales effort. Good media relations requires a deep knowledge of relevant media outlets and the people who work at each one, relationship development with these people that extends beyond just getting them to do your bidding (ideally, you have a relationship with the people at a media outlet before you need them to cover something specific), people skills, and persuasion skills.
Media relations is not simply sending out press releases via lists and wires. People who do media relations understand a company’s goals and objectives and understand the goals and objectives of key media outlets—and they develop specific pitches to each media outlet that persuade them to cover the company’s stories from angles that make sense to the outlet and the company.
Media relations is a constant conversation and negotiation. Many stories get placed through media relations without a press release ever being written or involved in the effort.
Definition: News Item
A “news item,” as the FrogDog team calls it, might be written in the style of a press release, yet it isn’t sent out via a wire or, in many cases, even directly to media contact lists.
Typically, companies put news items on the company’s website and send a link to the item to interested people within a company and outside a company. News-item distribution methods include social media, e-mail, sales messages to prospects, customer-relations contacts with clients, and even advertising channels.
In most cases, companies should create and send out news items, not press releases. (If your goal is media coverage, true media relations is your best bet.)
Next Steps in Company News
Is that all there is to it?
But a quick definition in terms and a basic understanding of what time and money are involved in the effort will help you—and your marketing team—greatly when it comes to keeping everyone on the same page and updated on company news.
Want help telling your story? Contact FrogDog today for a free consultation.
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