10 Press Release Alternatives

HeatherWhaling
Heather Whaling President, Geben Communication

Posted on January 5th 2011

More than a few PR people want to declare the press release dead; however, as long as reporters continue to ask for releases — and sometimes run them verbatim — the press release is alive and well.

That said, a media release isn’t the perfect tool for every situation. Sometimes, other modes of communication are more effective. As PR people, it’s our job to counsel companies on which tool(s) can deliver the right message to the right audience.

With that in mind, here are 10 alternatives to the traditional press release:

  1. Social Media Release — A SMR is the 2.0 version of the traditional press release, featuring links, video, photos, and social media integration. I use Pitchengine to create effective social media releases. This can be an especially helpful tool if you have news that matters to the general public. The social sharing built in to Pitchengine releases helps news spread far and wide.
  2. Blogger Briefing — Think of blogger briefings as the next iteration of the press conference. When you have major news to share, consider organizing a conference call or video meeting to share the facts with bloggers (and even traditional reporters).
  3. YouTube Video — Got a message from your CEO? You don’t have to cross your fingers and hope the local newspaper runs a statement. Instead, shoot a video, post it on YouTube and share it on your blog, in your enewsletter, on Twitter and Facebook. You could even send the link to your local media. Many newspapers are embedding multi-media along with stories, so help a reporter out by providing some audio visual.
  4. Internet Broadcast – One of my clients is the Columbus Marathon. During the weeks leading up to the event, participants have lots of questions  — everything from “how many port-o-potties will be on the course?” to “where should I park?” To answer these questions, we organized an “Ask the Race Director” UStream broadcast. Marathon participants were invited to submit questions in advance, or ask them during the live event, which were answered live by the race director. This, in addition to the FAQs that were posted on the website and in the enewsletter, helped provide a better race experience for marathoners.
  5. Blog Post — Got an announcement to make? Blog it. Simple and effective — as long as your blog is read by the people you’re trying to reach with your news.
  6. Twitter “Chat” Tour — When Laura Fitton (@pistachio on Twitter) was promoting her new book, she organized a “chat tour” — appearing as a guest on several industry Twitter chats (including #pr20chat, which I co-moderate). Laura shared her expertise with new audiences, while also introducing her new book to potential buyers. There are 200+ Twitter chats, so finding one that aligns with your product/service shouldn’t be too hard. Just remember, Twitter chats are not appropriate places for a hard sale.
  7. Virtual Scavenger Hunt — While you may feel an urge to send a press release out announcing your company’s new website, please don’t. It’s not news. Nowadays, just about everyone has a website … and most update their site at least every couple years, if not more frequently. Instead, think about creating an event that will drive traffic to the site and get your target audience diving into the content. A virtual scavenger hunt is one effective way to do just that. Here’s how I implemented virtual scavenger hunt for a client last year.
  8. Enewsletter Announcement — If your company has a strong e-newsletter, consider using that as a tool to share important news. If it’s “news” that would only be of interest to current clients (or whoever subscribes to your enewsletter), this can be a more effective tactic than a traditional press release.
  9. Send a tweet. Bypassing traditional media, celebrities have used Twitter to announce breakups, pregnancies and other “news.” Companies, too, are turning 140-character messages to share news and announcements with their network. Again, this is only a viable option if you’ve built a strong network ahead of time.
  10. Your turn … what other idea would you suggest to share news?

If you’ve decided a press release isn’t the right tool — or shouldn’t be the only tool — try incorporating one (or more!) of these ideas into your communication arsenal. And, feel free to use the comments to brainstorm other press release alternatives.

HeatherWhaling

Heather Whaling

President, Geben Communication

An award-winning communicator, Heather Whaling fuses strategic thinking, strong writing, and creativity to deliver PR, social media and marketing results. As president of Geben Communication (www.gebencommunication.com), Heather works with national, recognizable brands, start-ups and nonprofits to integrate traditional and online strategies. Named one of the top 30 PR experts to follow on Twitter, Heather co-moderates the popular PR 2.0 chat (#pr20chat on Twitter). You can connect with her on her blog (www.prTini.com), on Twitter (twitter.com/prTini) or by email (heather [at] gebencommunication [dot] com).
See Full Profile >

Comments

Sometimes it can be really useful to actually read a magazine, view a website, or listen to a radio station that you are sending your press release to.

Research these media platforms in detail and find the sections that are relevant to your company, product, or so on and then write a personalised email to the editor or writer of that section suggesting an angle.

Any journalist will appreciate the fact that you have taken the time to look at their work and come up with something creative that could actually work. This process can lead to gaining some excellent coverage.

Thanks for sharing this article.

10. A Tweet-up where those initiated are also testing on their own the product/service. It's less demanding than a conference and more informal and relaxed. 

Heather, Great list and I love your opening line. The blog suggestion is very valid but I think it depends on the nature of the blog, as you mentioned reaching those you want to hit with your news. One mistake I see from corporate blogs is all news all the time, just a broadcast channel for sales news. The chattour is a very creative idea, as are videos and blogger briefs. Ala you enewsletter, I'm a fan of email marketing, eblasts or whatever you call them -targeted relevant, helpful news to the right people (who've opted in) via old fashioned email. For #10, I'd go with a short pitch. Not a full-on complete with boilerplate release, but a targeted, researched pitch that's straightforward, to the point and helpful. If it's good it'll jumpstart the conversation, spark an interest.. and lead to that "could you send me details, release" call or email. FWIW.

 

 

10.  Facebook post!!!  I run social media for an organistion with 6000+ fans on facebook, and posting a message there is by far the easiest way to get information out quickly, messages tend to get 5,000+ impressions within 24 hours.  That said I would still submit a well written press release to appropriate free distribution types to hit a wider range of potential journos.

Good stuff.  The Virtual Scavenger Hunt is very intriguing.  Thanks for info drop.

Tell one person. There you go.

Videos and social media are naturals. 3 years ago, I was the first person at my university to incorporate a video message from my CEO (college dean) and a 10-minute video interview shot in a tv studio into a monthly, electronic news magazine. Magazine because it was too big to be a newsletter (between 30 and 50 printed pages). Well, it was the largest college on campus.

If only I could fuse ideas together as well as you...

Social media is now far effective way of promoting your brand, even press releases are done on that platform.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks press release aren't dead. In a lot of ways, they've been reinvented for the web, which, as you've clearly shown, has unending possibilities for reaching people without the extra effort of pitching stories (many of them boring) to news outlets.

-- Harmony

www.starbrightbusiness.blogspot.com