You can still pick up a phone and call a journalist, or send a direct message on social platforms like Twitter, otherwise known as “sliding into their DMs.” Based on the latest stats, though, nothing is as likely to get the media’s attention as sending a press release.
In fact, Cision’s most recent Global State of the Media Report, which surveyed 1,355 journalists across six countries, didn’t just reveal that 63 per cent of editors, writers and other industry professionals see press releases as their most valuable source of information. It also revealed that press releases rank as their most trusted source, according to nearly half, or 44 per cent, of those surveyed.
“Despite all the time they spend on social media, only three percent said they trust blogs and social channels,” the report says. Further, it adds that press releases were considered more trustworthy than company spokespeople (who were preferred by 29 percent of respondents.
For Sabrina Hutchinson, CEO of Defiant Public Relations based in Los Angeles, the data from the State Of The Media Report reinforces her belief that clients need to recognize the value of investing in one of the communication profession’s most tried-and-true vehicles.
“It shows you that a press release is something that does hold weight and credibility,” she told The Citizen. “For a number of years, with the advent of social, there were people suggesting the concept of a press release was dead, but there’s a reason we use it. This is content that gets acknowledgment from the media. They want story angles — that’s one of the reasons it’s helpful to them.”
Not long ago, for example, Defiant was working with an awards show for an association for people who produce music for video games. The work involved putting together a press release that not only announced who won but offered potential fodder for coverage based on different categories, winner profiles and more. This was the first time the organization had done a press release, Hutchinson added.
“It was a bit unwieldy getting all the stakeholders involved, but in the end, we could offer such a great amount of information,” she says. “It really broke down the who, what, where and why.”
Just the act of drafting a press release can be a great way to capture key messages, says Brian Keefer, director of new accounts at Vitiello Communications Group based in North Brunswick, N.J. Although PR professionals may still have to think holistically about social media and all the other digital communication channels, anything that gets developed for a press release can serve as source material elsewhere, he noted.
“It’s encouraging when I see the State of The Media results because personally, I firmly believe in how the press release plays a role for communications. It’s a no-brainer for me,” he says.
Vitiello works with clients in highly regulated industries such as insurance, healthcare and pharmaceuticals. To some extent, press releases are ideal because they allow Keefer and his team to include credible data reporters will need based on research studies. In addition, Keefer noted that journalists continue to value press releases in part because they have evolved to include multiple sources of information, just like a well-reported story.
“A third party provides so much greater credibility,” he says, adding that quotes beyond a company spokesperson can include customers and research analysts. “It’s not just the company tooting its own horn that ‘We’ve achieved this result.’ If you’re working with scientific researchers in the pharma space, for example, you want to give a voice to those people. They’re the ones doing the research with you.”
The sources in a press release have also evolved far beyond words on a page. Defiant, which works with a lot of entertainment clients, has started to think of multimedia releases with graphics and video as something akin to an electronic press kit or microsite, according to Hutchinson.
“With the volume of pitches and inquiries that media outlets are receiving, I wonder if, when you actually take the time to put together a [multimedia] press release, that maybe that stands out to them,” she says. “You’re basically giving them something worthwhile, researched, crafted, versus the onslaught of what they usually get.”
Multimedia in a release also builds upon the trust factor due to the nature of the content, Keefer adds.
“When you include a video or a podcast link, you offer a platform that allows a company to show greater authenticity,” he says. “As media, you can see [the spokesperson’s] expression. You hear the tone.”
Finally, Keefer advises his peers to keep in mind shareholders, customers, or even employees that might want to see press releases.
“You can do a lot more than just pitch the media,” he says. “Keep those other audiences in mind and share widely.”