This article originally appeared on PR Daily in February of 2018.
In 2018, sending out a press release via a wire service simply doesn’t make sense as a PR tactic to garner earned media coverage.
Does sending out press releases make sense at all?
Well, not really.
Press releases are PR 101. Sending them out used to be part of a standard PR professional’s workflow—and as a result, many pros still send out releases simply because it’s what they’ve always done.
Newswire services like PR Newswire and BusinessWire are costing PR professionals millions of dollars each year, with foggy ROI at best. On paper, it looks like you can get your news in front of tens of thousands of media outlets for a nominal fee.
Who wouldn’t want to pay to play a little bit in that case?
However, press releases don’t really work in the modern era of media relations.
In today’s digital age, when there are tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Medium available, does it make sense to pay for a press release to be published on a wire service?
Let’s debunk a few of the common misconceptions around using wire services.
1. “In my industry I have to use a wire service to share important news, like quarterly earnings.” Nope. According to the SEC way back in 2013, companies are allowed to use social media outlets to announce key information so long as investors have been alerted “about which social media will be used to disseminate such information.”
2. “But my executives love seeing their names in popular publications and media outlets. News wires help me achieve this goal.” Consider this: Posting to social media allows you to @mention executives, depending on your platform of choice. This can help your leadership make business connections instead of just grabbing a quick mention on a static wire service.
3. “I use a wire service because it’s included as added value to a service I already use.” Awesome. You’re trying to make the most of the service you’ve invested in, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a smart decision. Releases sent through a wire can appear spammy to journalists. You don’t want them to think of your company in that way, right?
In many cases there are much stronger alternatives to sending press releases over wire services out there for PR pros.
Here are three:
1. Send a customized pitch.
Personalization is everything when it comes to building relationships with the media. Just consider this statistic from Muck Rack’s 2017 Journalist Survey: “When asked, why do you immediately reject otherwise relevant pitches, 22 percent of journalists cited lack of personalization.”
Crafting and distributing a custom pitch shows reporters that you mean business. It demonstrates that you thoroughly understand the media outlet and individual journalist you’re pitching and that you have something unique to offer their audience.
Sending a pitch directly to a reporter also means that journalists don’t have to spend time searching for material on a wire service; the news is coming directly to them.
2. Leverage your owned media.
Even if you’re a fan of the editorial control that comes with publishing a press release on a newswire service, there are still far better alternatives out there.
Start publishing a company blog or consider sharing the news on a site like Medium to increase your post reach. It’s no secret that earned media can help drive traffic and attention to your owned media properties, so consider seeking out an industry blog that accepts guest pitches and submit your story idea for the chance to be featured.
Both options offer greater control than a traditional pitch, because you can publish your announcement or story exactly as you desire (minus some editor’s notes if you’re submitting to another industry blog).
You can include links to sections of your website or other sites with relevant information and even mention internal executives directly to get their buy-in.
Plus, unlike a traditional news wire service, you have the chance to pick where you’re published so you know you’ll find the right audience for your piece and engage readers.
3. Share it on social media.
With billions of users globally, social media is a must-have tool in your PR arsenal.
Social media has removed the buffer between PR pros and the general public. Gone are the days when it was necessary to hold a press conference or publish a press release to attract the attention of the masses. What used to take hours now can happen with a few clicks of a button.
Also, journalists are also on social media. Whether they’re sharing recent stories they’ve published or seeking out sources on Twitter, reporters have become increasingly active on their preferred platforms.
As an added bonus, social media is an invaluable tool for impressing your bosses.
Sending out a Tweet or LinkedIn post with your latest blog post or media hit? Tag internal executives right in the message. They’ll be able to see your PR efforts in action and share with their network, amplifying the message even further.
What are your thoughts on newswire services, PR Daily readers?
Natan Edelsburg is the COO for Muck Rack and the Shorty Awards and is the executive editor of Found Remote. A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists to pitch, build media lists, get press alerts and create coverage reports with social media data.