The Days of Major Media Using Your Release Verbatim are Over (Not That They Were Ever Under)

ImageLast week a good friend of mine who owns his own business asked me about sending out a news release. His concern was sending out the release the day after the Pope announcement – – would the media avoid the news release because of the Papal appointment? (as a funny aside, I saw several Tweets and posts from PR folks “advising” to send out your bad news today since the media was covering the news from the Vatican)

My feeling has always been the news release does not equal news coverage from the media. The only wire a reporter at The Denver Post is looking at on his or her computer is from the Associated Press, Reuters, etc. However, 15 years ago it was difficult to disprove that because news releases were routinely seen – verbatim – on sites like MSNBC, New York Times, Denver Post, etc.

The somewhat dirty little secret at the time was, because of relationships the press release companies had with different aggregators, client releases would be seen on high profile sites.

That was the good news. The bad news was the release was so buried within the site that it would take you – literally – seven or eight clicks to get to the release. This was before the days of Google (yes, there were days before Google) so the real likelihood of being seen was…what is the word I’m looking for…small.

This is less indictment and more comment on the times. For me, if you wanted to get a story in print, on television, etc., you needed to reach out to the media and build a relationship by (for those who have read my blogs before, here it comes) developing a compelling story for your real/appropriate audience.

Well, times have certainly changed, but some things remain the same: the best way to get a story out to your real/appropriate audience via the media is by developing the compelling story and unless you are a publicly held company, the media aren’t waiting for your news release.

Does that mean the news release is dead? Absolutely not. Like many who have aged, I believe it has gone through a facelift of sorts. I would categorize a press release as a type of content that can/should be used to help tell a story, build a brand, etc. Distributing the news release has benefits. It can rank on the search sites. It can be a part of your company blog. You can Tweet about it and post on your Facebook Page.

Along the same lines, the way we reach the media has most definitely changed, but whether it is Direct Messaging them on Twitter, following their Facebook Page, calling, emailing or texting the one thing remains the same – – the media want/need compelling stories. And, given the increased access to what they are looking for, there are no real excuses as to not pitching them something appropriate.

But what about the media itself? Media has changed over the year with bloggers, social sites and news aggregators altering the landscape and not necessarily following the “rules” of…your mother’s media. Today, someone may post a story without checking sources, Tweet it to his followers and – when he/she realizes a mistake was made, sends a correction that isn’t “consumed” by everyone who received the first Tweet.   Well, this is a topic for another day.

Another friend of mine shared a great infographic talking about the changing face of PR.  The bottom part of it was my favorite. Those elements that remain: relationships, storytelling, thought leadership, authenticity, facts, speed, preparedness and credibility.


8 thoughts on “The Days of Major Media Using Your Release Verbatim are Over (Not That They Were Ever Under)

  1. Hi, well I’ve written on the same topic yesterday on my blog. I believe that it depends on the country and business/public sector sphere you’re into. Some still go the traditional way in press releases and it works. Some media still go verbatim.

    1. Thanks, Cristina. Appreciate your perspective. I’m sure some blogs, smaller media, etc. do still post verbatim. Just don’t see the bigger folks doing so. One aspect I didn’t mention is the news release still needs to be written professionally, and written as if you were a reporter. Other content developed can be more one-sided. Thanks, again.

      1. You’re welcome. They are still doing verbatim on political public news releases in Romania even if badly written, so yes, elsewhere it still happens.

  2. Great post. Sometimes I struggle with traditional news releases when other methods might be more effective. I’ve found that it has been helpful to educate my business partners on what is news and what is not as well as how to approach communicating the “news” for the best results.

  3. Great article, especially given that I’ve seen how much PR has changed since started in the industry 30 years ago. I do think that the traditional news release, if distributed properly, still has a place in keeping up the visibility of organizations if not announcing “real news”. For the juicy stuff (the stuff the media really should care about), we always do multimedia news releases (with text, photos, video, etc.) which gives clients the most widespread Internet distribution. We also include a link to the MNR in emails we send out when doing direct media outreach — which is still where I believe you’re going to be the most effective. All of that being said, news releases still give reporters a way to frame stories; I’d rather they read it, interview my clients and then write their own stories!

  4. I disagree. My experience is that an interesting story presented in a well-written release will nearly always result in broad coverage. If anything, far fewer PR professionals today invest the time or creativity needed in packaging a story to generate the desired level of coverage.

    It’s too easy for practitioners in our field to abdicate responsibility, and try to push the blame off on information overload, changing technology, or some other shiny excuse. And it turns people off to public relations.

    So many of my clients have presented horror stories where, before coming to me, they had spent incredible sums on PR services and received nothing in terms of coverage. And it’s obvious in almost every case that the person or firm they had retained was simply lazy, dishonest, or not creative — or some combination of the three.

    No one can guarantee broad, glittering media coverage in every, single case, but generating press can be achieved nearly 100% of the time — provided the PR/marketing professional invests sufficient time and creativity in crafting a release and distributing it properly.

    Pre-existing relationships with journalists are helpful, especially when one is seeking deep coverage from a premium media target, but such relationships are hardly necessary for achieving project success.

    A well-written, creative release blasted out via PR Newswire or similar distribution platform should produce every time — and if it doesn’t, it’s the PR professional that is to blame. And it’s that PR professional who must accept responsibility — for resulting press or any lack thereof.

    1. Scott, thanks for the comment. I’d love to see some of your examoples of major news outlets using the news release verbatim. Actual coverage. Not a public company’s release on the press release section of the company’s financial page on Bloomberg, Reuters, etc. Not a press release sent out by a PR Newswire used on a news site, “buried” in an area the typical user would not be able to get to – – that said, some releases may appear on a Google search given the right SEO.

      The key to media coverage is our ability to develop compelling messages to the appropriate audience. As you said, relationships are helpful, but the true measure of a successful PR person is that ability to develop a story. Media will not cover something if the story isn’t right, because they like us.

      To take it a step further, if a PR person just sends something out over a wire service and doesn’t follow up, he/she is doing a disservice to the client.

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