Release Yourself From The Press Release
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Release Yourself From The Press Release

Eggs in a basketLetting you down gently

I’ll tell you this as gently as I can: Press releases don’t always work.

So don’t send them out thinking they’re going to get you on Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America or CBS Early Show.

A lot of people still think press releases are the best way to get the media to notice them, but to the busy media professional, press releases say: “Here’s something everyone is going to get at the same time as you. No scoop for you!”

Now I’m not saying they don’t work for search engine optimization purposes. Press releases are great for that. They build links back to your site; building your branding and messaging online and increasing your credibility.

You may want to send out press releases if you’re a corporate entity and need the message to be searchable on news wire services in the future.

And reporters are not likely to ignore your press release if you have true breaking news, such as a plant expansion that will add hundreds of jobs in a local coverage area.

But sending out press releases is not the most effective way to score the coveted news features that you’ll want.

That is done with relationship building. Nothing beats “dial and smile” phone calls, personalized emails and perfect pitches.

Organizing an online press kit with ready-to-use story ideas, quotes and background will help you get your message out and make it easier for the media to cover you.

And making it easy for the media will definitely boost your odds of being chosen as a source in articles, TV segments and radio broadcasts (check out my teleseminar on positioning your eggs in the media’s baskets).

Also, with social networking sites, it’s easier than ever to build a buzz about your product or service.

You can take your message direct to the audience you seek with a great website, some search engine optimization or a Facebook friends link.

To score media coverage and build credibility though, there’s still no substitute for personal contact with your target media. Get to know them and make them feel special. Read their articles and tune in to their shows.

Educate yourself on the different specialty or niche areas they cover.

Dig in.

Most businesses have untold stories that are interesting. It may be something about how they got started or how they developed a new product or service.

So find the compelling story about your business or product. Then make a list of those media people you would like to cover your story and begin building relationships with them — send them the press release before everyone else gets it. Give them the scoop before you announce it to the world.

Making the media feel special is a sure-fire way to have them come back and ask for more scoops from you.

More from Women Grow Business:

Image: Shelley Bernstein via Flickr, Creative Commons

Twenty-year PR Veteran and Chief Creative Officer of Wasabi Publicity, Michelle Tennant Nicholson has seen PR transition from typewriters to Twitter. Called a five-star publicist by Good Morning America’s Mable Chan, Michelle specializes in international PR working regularly with the likes of Oprah, Larry King, BBC, The Today Show and all major media. Once she secured a Dr. Phil placement for a client within eight hours of signing the contract.  Contact her at where she teaches tips from the trade.


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  1. Michelle: Great post. And you’re so right about press releases. I still write them for my organization, but I rarely proactively send them out. I write them mainly so they can be posted to our website to chronicle what we’re doing and so that reporters new to our beat can find out what my organization has been doing.

    But before the releases go up on my site, I send out targeted pitches to the appropriate reporters and try to give each reporter their own slant so they each have their own story to tell.

    PR by press release is just dead!

    My only disagreement with your post was your comment about including “ready-to-use story ideas” in an online press kit. Isn’t posting “ready-to-use story ideas” on a website almost the same thing as blasting out a press release? I can’t imagine a reporter pulling from that list of ideas. Have you found differently?

    In my mind, the essentials for an online press kit include background material, fact sheet, executive bios, video (if you have it), images reporters can download, and press releases as background info.

  2. @Robin Ferrier

    Robin: Thanks for your thoughtful comment, reply and question. In my experience, story ideas provide producers and journalists just that: ideas. It’s a diving board to get creative juices flowing. I like to provide “seasonal” story ideas in online press kits and snap shot pages (our downloadable link to online press kits — see examples (and feel free to borrow any idea) at — but when I’m interacting one on one with media for sure I find breaking news pitches more valuable. Those should not be placed on online press kits, unless of course you’re updating the press kit daily/weekly with breaking news items. For more dated press kits that are simply updated quarterly I suggest using seasonal angles to jump start the media’s creativity. They love the ideas so they can bounce them off their bosses. Anything that helps them look good to their bosses, employers and clients (freelancers, for example) has them coming back again and again. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have another question! ~ Michelle

  3. Great article! I wrote one just like it on Linkedin. Press release info is always a hit.

  4. Thanks Lisa!

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