These days, none of us now rely on the morning newspaper to learn what’s going on around the world – we have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and all other kinds of social media that deliver the news for us. Many might think it would be easier to just write off the press release at this stage, but it would be a mistake. It’s less about feeding into a generic news cycle and more about delivering the relevant content, to the right audience and at the right time. It’s a crucial tool in any organization’s PR toolbox and after a deep dive into Cision’s 2021 State of the Press Release report, I think you’ll agree with me.

Why communicate through the Press Release?

The press release in its simplest form is an official announcement that provides enough information for journalists and editors to publish their own story. While that’s the basics, there’s more to it than that, and getting it right is vital to the success of the story.

Do you feel that press releases are not effective tools when it comes to communicating your brand message? Well, you’re not alone. After surveying over 100 industry professionals, Cision found that 42% experience difficulties getting their press release to the right audience and 36% struggled to get their press releases to stand out. But with the right direction, the press release can become a powerful tool in every PR and marketing arsenal.

This time last year, the IBA team evaluated Cision’s 2020 State of the Press Release and we’re back at it again. I have just joined IBA and I am keen to find out what key takeaways on the power of the press release still ring true with IBA’s experience in media engagements– and how we can use these findings to influence B2B PR and marketing activities in 2021/22.

  1. Market strength and thought leadership – an untapped source of brand equity

In the Cision report, 84% of industry professionals stated that their main reason for using press releases was to disseminate business news. The press release is certainly effective in circulating news far and wide but there are other benefits that organizations often overlook. At IBA we use housekeeping sentences to add hidden agendas for our clients that tell more to the story than meets the initial eye. An order can show growth, domination in a market, move into a new market – I’m learning how to use those housekeeping paragraphs to full effect. But less than half of professionals in the Cision research claimed they used press release to promote other agendas such as thought leadership. But here at IBA, we strongly believe that one of the most effective ways to grow a company’s brand is to inform the target audience and gain credibility as an industry expert – and our continuous stream of client coverage is a clear testament to this!

  1. Multimedia: it’s time to modernize your content

In an age where technological affordances are at their most accessible, many companies still treat press releases as a thing of the past. Now is the time to modernize and add multimedia to spice up the press release. With the addition of an image or a video, you can more than double the engagement of the press release – and this trend continues if you add multiple images as engagement can soar to four times the amount of a text-only press release. This trick is so simple yet effective and will provide a great return on outreaching efforts.

  1. Don’t wait for the perfect timing and news has a longer shelf life than you think

We’ve all heard the trope that Tuesday is the most productive day of the week and therefore everyone sends their most important work out on that day. However, Cision found that journalists actively search for newsworthy stories throughout the week and not just during workdays. Rather than sending out the press release at the same time as everyone else just to pile up in someone’s inbox, pick a timing that is right for you.

In fact, the shelf life on press releases is much longer than you might expect – and can even last up to a year with the right content. We can confirm this with our experience at IBA. We even had an appointment story that outlived the stay of the executive! Cision’s recommendation is to create – derivative content – blog posts, LinkedIn posts, comment pieces – and at IBA we couldn’t agree more. Derivative content is vital to keep a brand in the media’s eye and to produce a continuous flow of quality content. This keeps the news fresh and will be vital to brand visibility.

Power to the Press Release!

One thing I would add however, is that at IBA we believe in targeting media directly for press releases. Use a wire service for SEO but this is no replacement for targeting your press release directly at the inbox of your key media.

So while some may feel that press releases are not an effective tool in their marketing strategy, by changing things up a bit and breaking away from some of the tired press release practices, B2B PR and marketing professionals can reap every benefit of this powerful communication tool!

Elizabeth Quinlan is PR Executive at IBA International.

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