PR in practice: The perishable press release
May 20th, 2009
“More is better” might hold true for money, but not for press releases.
Many companies and PR agencies think that volume wins the day. But in a time when there are multiple outlets for news and announcements - blogs, twitter, social media, internal enewsletters - PR professionals and the companies that employ them should think of press releases as a limited and perishable resource.
So if your CEO’s every move isn’t worthy of a press release, what is? That’s a matter of perspective, and you are best served if you don’t over-inflate your company’s or client’s impact on the industry or world at large.
Releases come in all sizes
All news is not created equally, and shouldn’t be given the same treatment. Company news with a significant business or industry impact usually deserves a press release with widespread distribution through services such as Business Wire or PR Newswire. Other news, such as a minor revision of a product, should be distributed in a press release to a more specialized list of relevant trade publications and web sites. Special interest news, such as a trade show appearance or minor product update, should be reserved for the company web site or e-newsletter.
Those who think that cramming an editor’s mailbox with press releases is going to generate more coverage are sadly mistaken. It’s more likely that an editor will think of you in the same vein as the weekend guest who overstayed his welcome and drank all the beer in the fridge.
No announcement before its time
Timing, especially for new product releases, is also important. There are some companies that think the more times they announce the product - one-year out, six months out, one-month out, when it’s really out three months after it was supposed to be - the more coverage they’ll receive. Maybe in the short run this will work. But anticipation can quickly turn to frustration, lack of trust, and a bad reputation.
Microsoft might be able to get away with this, but chances are your company can’t.
Don’t spoil the appetite
Some general guidelines for the new product announcement: It’s OK to announce in advance at a trade show or event if you specify the delivery date, if that date is no more than two or three months away and you know you can meet it, and if you are confident that the features will not change from what you have announced.
If you cannot meet any one of the above, hold off with the release until the product is available. In fact, this is normally the best way to do it. You have a tangible product (and perhaps review software or hardware for editors) that is readily available, and you might even have some beta testers outside the company who are willing to say good things about it.
Think of press release management like a dinner party: Don’t promise a menu you cannot deliver and don’t spoil your guest’s appetite for the main course.
Next week: The elements of a good press release.