Online News and the Press Release

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect at Sonnhalter

I’ve been reading the book, “Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator,” by Ryan Holiday at the recommendation of a colleague. It’s full of interesting, and damning, tidbits of information about today’s online publishing world.

Ryan speaks specifically about blogs, but some of his comments are true across many digital outlets, including some of the websites for your favorite printed trade publications. Allow me to stress the word “some.”

The main comment I want to share reinforces a message that we try to send our clients about the relevancy of PR and the basic, age-old PR tool: The press release.

Ryan writes:

“When I first started in PR, all of the leading web gurus were proclaiming the death of the press release. ‘Good riddance,’ I thought. […] Before long, I came to see the truth. Blogs love press releases. Does every part of their job for them.”

He continued to explain why:

  • The material is already written
  • The angle is laid out
  • The subject is newsworthy
  • They can blame someone else if the story turns out to be wrong

In my B2T public relations world, I find that many of the publications that I work with are low on staff and have to produce more content to continuously feed their websites and some have mandated blogs with post frequency requirements.

From a PR perspective, this is good. The editors at these publications have gotten to know me from sending press releases, event invitations and periodic messages offering to help with whatever they need.

Often, those press releases are posted verbatim on their websites within 5 minutes of opening the email. The press releases serve to make those editors’ jobs easier because they know, at least if they receive it from me, that it’s solid writing, confirmed information and packaged in the easiest format for them to use.

For our clients, press releases receive more attention and pickup today than they did even five years ago when I started in this field.

Sure, online coverage isn’t tied to as high of an “ad equivalency rate” because online advertising is cheap, but it gets more impressions because the majority of people are getting their immediate news online, either through visiting their favorite sources or ordering it up in their inbox through e-newsletter subscriptions.

As an added benefit of the modern press release, that is delivered electronically, the media I work with will often post the release and occasionally will follow-up for a more in-depth story or to request comments for another article they’re working on.

Don’t let anyone tell you that press releases are dead, because in this industry, they are alive, kicking and very valuable.

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