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Issuing your own press releases offers a huge opportunity

Changes to the publishing world mean it is now a great time to get your message out via a press release, advises consultant Graham Jones

Press releases used to be special. They would arrive in a crisp envelope with the material they included ‘embargoed’ until a deadline a day or two ahead. The journalist receiving the information, therefore, had time to consider the material, and re-write it to suit the particular publication and audience.

At least, that’s what used to happen. It took place because newsrooms were full of writers and editors whose job was to ensure the publication produced the very, very best for its readers. Nowadays, those newsrooms are sparse. A couple of decades ago a national newspaper would employ thousands of people; now it is a couple of hundred.

At the same time, the amount of space that has to be filled has gone up. Just look at the umpteen sections of your average Sunday newspaper now and compare it with the same publication from 20 years ago. There’s more than four times as much content these days, with about a tenth of the number of people available to produce it. Not only that, but the printed media now has to fill acres of online space to compete. Journalists used to write three or four stories a day – now it can be double that and deadlines are tougher.

On top of this, proprietors still bang the quality drum, and laws have changed requiring publications to be even more stringent with accuracy. Publishers have fewer resources, less time to complete their job and have to produce higher quality than ever before. It is tough.

Cover of SP - C BuddScreen Shot 2015-06-18 at 11.19.12However, that toughness has created an opportunity for businesses. If you can produce a press release that does the job that a journalist would have to do, you have saved them time, money and helped them maintain quality standards. The day of the press release has come.

Far from being unimportant or worthless, press releases are gaining value, simply because – done right – they can help reduce the pressures on the modern world of publishing. In other words, there is a huge opportunity available for business.

Yet, many businesses fail to capitalise on press releases. That’s because they only send out press releases that are ‘puffery’. Press releases that work are news stories and features targeted at the specific readers of a particular publication. If you do that, then your press release is much more likely to get used.

Far from press releases being worthless, they are probably worth much more now than they ever were. One thing is of over-riding importance, though. If all you do is produce a release that is about your company and how marvellous you are, then you can expect it to sink without trace. Think of press releases as news stories and you will succeed in getting free publicity for your business.

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