What Are Press Releases?
Press releases are news stories written by a public relations professional and sent to targeted members of the media. Usually the purpose is providing information, creating an official statement, or making some sort of announcement.
Some people have the misconception that press releases are just for the media and journalists. But that’s not the case at all. Thousands of businesses incorporate press releases into their communications and marketing strategies.
Why Do Press Releases?
Now that you know a little more about what press releases are, you probably are asking yourself, “why should I send them out?”
Press releases do a ton for your business, including helping with:
- Brand awareness
- Consumer engagement
- Consumer retention
- Crisis management
- Product or service promotions
You probably had no idea press releases could do that much. Most people think “brand awareness” or “crisis management” when it comes to press releases. But press releases also help with the bottom-line by raising traction on promotions, engaging with your consumer base, boosting SEO efforts, and more.
For example, if you have a press page on your website where you feature your various press releases, then you can incorporate keywords to bump up your SEO. Plus, when you publish a press release through media outlets, that means those websites share your content, which boosts website credibility on Google.
Really, this just scratches the surface of what press releases can do for you and your business. They are one of the most underutilized, “slept on” revenue streams today.
How to Write a Press Release
The most important thing to remember about press releases is you are telling a story. That means incorporating quotes from various sources. It also means you follow a storytelling cadence — with a beginning, middle, and end.
In the first paragraph, you will want to make sure you include the main element of the story: why you’re writing the press release. So for example, if you are sending out a press release promoting an upcoming company event, you will want to mention the event name, the date and location, and why the event is being held.
Other important elements of a press release include:
- Catchy headlines to grab readers’ attention
- A quick description when you first use your company name (unless you are a huge corporation with universal brand recognition). For example, “Tuuti, a creative communications agency…”
- An “About the Company” blurb at the end to provide context to your business for new consumers
- Contact information if reporters or others want to reach out for additional information
Extras to keep in mind:
- Remember “KISS” when writing. Or, Keep It Simple Sweetie. You don’t want to bog down press releases with too much industry jargon, long paragraphs, or complex explanations.
- You also need to avoid too much of a salesy voice — certain presswires will reject your content if it reads like an advertisement. You can mention promotions and link to social posts with more information, but your content may get rejected if it sends directly to a product sales page.
How to Distribute a Press Release
Now that you have written content, how do you publish it? Say hi to a PR distribution service, or the way you circulate your content so the press can pick it up and get traction. Distributors connect journalists and media outlets to companies by circulating press releases through established networks.
After trying out different tools, here at Tuuti we ended up with EIN Presswire. EIN is the world’s leading online newswire distribution service that reaches millions of journalists, businesses, and industry professionals.
On EIN, you are able to copy and paste content, enter in keywords, customize audience information, and then press the publish button. After a quick approval process by the EIN staff, the content goes live and spreads to the network of journalists, who then share the content in their channels.
Another method of distribution is through your own channels, such as social media and your website. These tend to work well as supplemental elements, unless you have a large established audience for these channels. Press releases really flourish when you use distribution services, as well as company channels.
Press Releases vs. Messaging
Okay, so we now have a good grasp on press releases. Now you’re probably wondering what the difference is between press releases and messaging. You may have heard “we need messaging on this” thrown around at the office, especially during a crisis situation. In that context, messaging means the angle, or the story you want to share with your audience.
Where it gets confusing is messaging may also refer to a form of PR communications, like press releases. Internal messaging and external messaging are two forms of communication you may need to include in your company’s PR plan. Let’s take a closer look at these two forms of PR, and what makes them different from press releases.
What Is Internal and External Messaging?
Internal messaging is information you circulate within a company, which is why it’s called “internal.” While internal messaging can cover a wide variety of communication — such as announcements, benefits, product releases, technology updates — it’s most often necessary for crisis management. You could send specific information surrounding a crisis to the team, so they are well-informed and well-positioned to address customer concerns.
External messaging is similar to internal messaging, except repurposed to be sent out to the general public. This is the type of content you may see shared through email and on social media directly to customers to address concerns. It typically includes the same points as internal messaging, just excluding confidential, company-only information.
Why Do Internal and External Messaging?
You might wonder what the need for messaging is, but the reason behind it is consistent communication and controlling the narrative. As a business, you likely already have channels in place to communicate with your own employees and with your customer base. This amplifies those already established channels.
Consistency is a huge deal when it comes to communication. Having a set process to address questions and concerns — and a set way of communicating — will save you in the long run.
You have probably worked with companies before that give you the runaround or give you different answers depending on the platform you’re on. This confuses and muddles everything, including for team members. You want to be sure you’re sharing the same message across the board.
Besides that, if you are not regularly reaching out to customers on concerns, issues can spiral out of control. With set processes in place, you can more easily respond to concerns and control the narrative before an issue escalates.
When Do You Need Press Releases and When Do You Need Messaging?
While press releases are full of positive news and stories you promote, messaging typically comes as a response to a specific issue. Press releases are to promote and build up a crisis management plan; messaging is how you interact with your customers in the midst of a crisis or situation.
For example, if you have received defective product claims from your customer support team, you would want to get ahead of the incident with a PR plan. In this plan, you would craft internal and external messaging to educate your team with the game plan and also give them approved verbiage to send out.
In this situation, you can supplement with press releases. If, say, the claim is your product contains an unsafe ingredient, you might send out an educational-based press release on the specific ingredient. This is an indirect way to respond to negative publicity.
However, when it comes to press releases, all your hard work comes long before a crisis. The idea is to consistently publish press releases so when bad press hits, it’s hard to find when searching your company’s name. Press releases provide lots of positive news and information that can bury the bad.
Press releases and messaging are an important pair for managing a crisis — but press releases are proactive and messaging is reactive.
How to Write and Distribute Messaging
When writing and distributing messaging, you want to follow these steps:
- As messaging often deals with high-stakes situations, the first step is to gather the key decision makers. This will ensure you find the right angle to address the issue, you have all the necessary information to solve the issue, and you can plan a clear approval process.
- Once you have decided on the direction of the message, you can get writing. Often, it’s best to start with internal messaging, as this provides the most details. Then you can soften that information and make it public-facing-ready for the external messaging.
- After it’s written, you will send the messaging through the appropriate approval channels to ensure it’s good to go.
- Once approval is given, it’s time to send it out. But distributing internal and external messaging isn’t like distributing press releases. Messaging isn’t typically something you want media outlets and reporters to pick up and circulate, since it’s usually issue-related. Instead, you use channels like customer care, email, and social media to speak to individuals. So, you can skip the distribution tools for internal and external messaging.
- As the crisis develops, you will want to monitor the situation. Public relations monitoring tools can help with this. Depending on how the situation develops, you may need to write additional messaging (and repeat these steps).
- Press releases are news stories written to provide information, create an official statement, or make some sort of announcement.
- Press releases do a ton for your business, including helping with brand awareness, consumer engagement, consumer retention, credibility, crisis management, product or service promotions, and SEO.
- Press releases are written in story format, including using quotes and catchy headlines.
- Internal messaging shares information within a company regarding important updates or situations.
- External messaging is direct communication to customers during situations, often through email or social media.
- Internal and external messaging helps with consistency across channels when communicating, as well as controlling the narrative.
- Press releases and messaging are an important pair for managing a crisis — but press releases are proactive and messaging is reactive.