Alternatives to sending a press release

Many times I have felt that a full press release may not be needed in certain situations. Depending on the event or time issues, sometimes it is just easier to get your message across in other ways. With the way technology is advancing, the press release may sometimes even seem “old school” in today’s society.

Claire Celsi, Editor at Ragan’s PR Daily believes that list-building-services have created a generation of lazy PR professionals.

She says, that “arguably, the worst part about being a PR professional is facing that list, breaking it down, and digging in to pitch to those reporters. But the most important thing is not writing the press release and blasting it out. First, you have to back up and say:

What is my message, and who would appreciate hearing it?

“Challenge yourself to never send another standard press release again.”

Celsi says that the best alternatives to use instead of a press release are:

1. Pitch email. Put your pitch in the form of a story, with bullet points emphasizing the most important details you want the reporter to know.

  • Google the reporter’s name. After ensuring that she still writes for the news outlet, click on one of her recent articles. Make sure it is within the same genre as your pitch.
  • Write a one-paragraph personalized intro for every email you send. Show some interest in the reporter’s work.
  • The remaining portion of the email can be the same for every reporter. This is your brief opportunity to capture the reporter’s interest with your pitch. Make it short, and make it interesting.
  • Write a subject line that gets attention and describes your pitch.
2. Make a website posting (preferably a blog post). 
3. Send a tweet. 
4. Send a Facebook message. 
5. Pick up the phone. 
6. Offer to meet a reporter for coffee.
Personally, I like the idea of not sending a press release for everything. Human contact can go a long way, and having a reporter hear your voice can usually be more persuading than a letter. Social media’s purpose is to help you complete tasks with more ease and efficiency, so why not take advantage of it? You might actually impress someone with how you go about contacting them for a story.
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3 thoughts on “Alternatives to sending a press release

  1. Taylor Sansone says:

    I really like that you chose alternatives to press releases. I really hate writing them, which is taboo for our major, I know. But I feel like it’s a huge effort that mainly goes unrewarded. I agree with you that human contact goes much farther. I also like the incorporation with social media. We have so many other resources available to us for communicating now, why not use them?

  2. aebarron says:

    This post is great. The formality of a press release never matched up with (in my mind) how “close” we are supposed to be with reporters. We’re supposed to develop good relationships with these people, albeit good professional relationships, yet we’re taught how to format a press release to a T. It has to have this much white space and that much content. Not too long of an intro but not too short as to not give information away.

    I read the first two paragraphs of this post and started thinking before moving on. I don’t think I’m lazy. But being “lazy” could be confused with saving time. For example how cool would it be if we could contact reporters via twitter? In 140 characters or less we can “pitch” a story idea to a reporter. Didn’t Prof. Parrish tell us that a press release typically stays in the hands of a reporter for an average of 30 seconds? I think it might even be less. Reading a tweet takes less time than that, and if it’s something they want to cover they can reach out to the PR people who sent it and bam.

    I continued reading and found twitter was on the list. So I guess people ARE doing that! You are absolutely right when you say social media is about ease and efficiency in the professional world. I predict that during our career, we’ll see the disappearance of the typical press release. Good read!

  3. LindseyTigert says:

    I wrote last week’s blog post over the same topic! Being a PR practitioner (in training, I suppose), gives most people the impression that they can simply send a traditional press release and always have their story picked up by willing reporters. However, anyone who has worked in the real world knows this isn’t always the case.

    I think traditional press releases do have their place, don’t get me wrong, however pitching to multiple reporters can be tiresome and boring with the same press releases in the same format being sent day by day. I think branching out can be a way of expressing creativity and I’m sure reporters are thankful for the occasional break from monotony.

    Taylor is write in saying we have SO many other ways to reach reporters now, and since social media is becoming so popular and easy to use, why not use it to your advantage?

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