PR Tips: Are press releases still effective?


As the public relations agency behind 5 installations of Southeast Asia’s largest and most premium whisky and spirits show, Whisky Live Singapore, our work behind the success of these events was hardly considered a breeze. How did publicity take Whisky Live Singapore’s inaugural number of 800 guests in 2010 to 3,000 in 2016? Our secret? Targeted press releases.

What is a press release

A press release may seem archaic to the uninitiated or often associated with press release distribution sites, which are not to be confused or used as a portal to market content. Subject matter must be newsworthy and official to warrant a press release.

The sad part is that a press release is commonly misused for SEO and often associated with press release distribution sites. These sites should not be confused or used as a portal to market content. There are many other portals for content marketing or submissions such as Taboola and Ezine Articles.

Different platforms speak to different audiences in different ways. The assumption of homogeneity in the target audience, and failure to frame and align diversified messages are many organisers’ Achilles’ heel.

Long gone are the days when one size fits all. Even high-budget communications can slip up and backfire if social trends and information consumption patterns are not thoroughly analysed.

Strategic communications largely point to crafting varied messages that resonate with diversified target audience at the right times on different platforms. The ability to arrest attention and communicate with different audiences is key.

What’s in a press release?

Content. And we are not referring to marketing copy. We are referring to information on what is newsworthy.

Think of a press release as a cheat sheet. It must cut through the clutter, and get to the point. If you have a seven-page press release (trust us, we have seen it before), we suggest to look through it again and craft a succinct story.

However, even newsworthy content needs to match packaging. An attention-arresting headline is never enough to seal the deal. It needs to be substantiated with noteworthy information that is of value to different media and to their readers or followers.

Having said so, more does not mean merrier. Journalists almost always prefer succinct materials. Therefore, the astuteness in discerning what’s hot and what’s not and the ability to orchestrate different bits and pieces into a concise yet compelling pitch are decidedly invaluable assets of a PR practitioner.

PRoTip: Get creative! Who says a press release needs to be just words of announcement and corporate pictures? Certainly, not us.

How to send press releases to all editors?

We simply don’t advise sending press releases to all editors. Blindly blasting content to all media outlets harms an agency’s credibility and jeopardises future collaboration opportunities. It’s called spamming. While quantity is a salient performance indicator when it comes to publicity, quality and resource management are aspects that must never be compromised.

Play your cards right and there is a higher chance of the release being published. Focus efforts on the media contacts whose audience matches that of the client or company. When feasible, consider offering exclusives to a certain media. This fosters a mutually-beneficial relationship that may prove to ease future collaboration and support.

PRoTip: Constantly update your company’s media contacts and arrange them according to genres and industry for ease of access and retrieval.

Why is my press release not picked up by the media?

Crafting the perfect press release and sending it out to the relevant media are only the first step. Follow up needs to be done. Call, send follow up emails and arrange for meet-ups or even interviews if need be. The reality is that the media receive hundreds, if not thousands, of press releases a day. A successful PR practitioner is a go-getter with a network of contacts, not a passive desktop warrior.

When planning for communication strategies and when to send out releases, always take note of the different lead times for different publications and productions. With content already planned months prior to publishing time, approaching the media at the last minute is a very risky and rather inconsiderate move.

PRoTip: When releases are turned down, take the trouble to find out why and fine-tune the pitching approach next time.

If it’s organically newsworthy, it probably does not require much effort to push. However, a poorly-written press release, incorrect targeting and haphazard follow-ups would be the undoing of other great PR efforts.

Taken from an answer Elaine Seah posted on Quora.