And It’s Definitely Not Just Down To The Wire!

The IBA team recently attended a webinar hosted by Agility PR on the uses of the modern newswire. With over 20 years of experience in press release distribution at leading newswire PR News, Tom Clarke, explained the ins and outs of wire press release distributions and how to make the most of the modern newswire.

The webinar brought up an interesting point of discussion: does the press release still hold its value in B2B marketing? This question is not new and one we asked ourselves back in 2019 – but what’s changed since? First let’s explore four key findings from the webinar:

  • The newswire has had a makeover for the digital age: The modern newswire has come a long way from its predecessors. Today, newswires have new digital features, such as multimedia options, and advanced monitoring technologies that provide visibility into where the press release was posted. The wire agencies use AI generative tools to assist with press release creation – although we have made it clear how we feel about AI’s role in content creation. But the majority of coverage for press release distributed by wire services are auto ‘placements’, so there is no journalist engagement but they do create a lasting digital footprint for your brand – and as we know the internet lasts forever!
  • Blanket distribution has its limits: Newswires are good at delivering press releases to many automated publication feeds, and provide good background noise. But earned press release coverage, distributed via a newswire or not, is based on the quality of that press release – the writing, content, and format – and the engagement with the journalist who reads and who is influenced by your corporate messages. There’s more to a release than the news, as we discuss below.
  • International coverage falls short: International coverage is also an area of weakness. Newswires can’t support global campaigns where translations into local languages and local contact expertise are required to place content in different regions. Brands would have to go through multiple wire distributors to target each geography via newswire – whereas, a specialist partner agency with experience in international campaigns would be able to orchestrate multi-geography campaigns from one single hub.
  • When it comes down to the wire, there’s a key difference between B2B and B2C campaigns: Tom Clarke claims there’s no organization out there that wouldn’t benefit at some point from newswire distributions, but because newswires target general news outlets, its service is much more beneficial for B2C brands to get their news in front of as many eyes as possible. For B2B brands, whose audience is much more niche, a targeted campaign of top industry journalists is much more effective.

Our conclusion: When drafted and communicated correctly the press release is still one of the most powerful tools for a B2B organization. It provides a valuable peg to hang your brand messaging, product development, corporate growth, and industry leadership. Our advice from 2019 still rings true, here’s how to get the B2B press release right.

The debate over whether PR and communications pros should bother with press releases is ongoing. Marketers, taking the easy option, are just relying on newswire services that, at the press of the button, see their releases published by hundreds of machine pickups. These releases will have never crossed the news desk of a living journalist.

But hang on a minute: what do journalists think? We’ve never seen any research or study which has completely written off the press release, in fact as the Cision 2019 Global State of the Media Report points out, when journalists were asked what type of content they want to receive, 71% said news announcements and press releases – and this has been the top answer for the past four years!

Understanding the why shows you how important a press release is

Learning how to write a press release remains a crucial skill for communications pros but understanding why to write a press release in the first place is equally important if you want to deploy it as an effective tool in your communications strategy.

First and foremost, a press release really isn’t just about the press release. When we talk about the value of a release, what we are talking about is its value as part of a continuous pattern of communication coming from a business or brand.

It’s an essential part of a pattern of activity

In isolation a single press release won’t have a huge impact. It may get people’s attention and draw their eye to a particular piece of company news or development, but this moment will be fleeting and soon forgotten about if not proactively followed up with a pattern of communications activity. A press release is the one tool at your disposal where you can talk though the media about your company’s products, services, customers and growth – try putting that into a thought leadership article and getting a journalist to use it!

The aim of the game in B2B communications is to build credibility, trust and momentum. A regular pattern of strategic communications through the relevant channels and targeted at the right audience will achieve this.

This is why a B2B organization should use press releases and news announcements to build up a positive picture of its business in the minds of the media and their audience. Communicating company news through the media signals chosen aspects of your brand or product that you want people to know.

That means distributing the press release directly to the inbox of the journalist and NOT through a newswire. That’s good background noise but is not helping your media engagement program. Journalists are still the gatekeepers to media coverage, and the third-party endorsement a company can get from coverage in recognized and respected media outlets is still one of the best ways to build credibility.

A peg to hang it all on
All news stories need a news angle and without it no journalist is likely to take a second glance at your release. It might be a release around a marquee customer – which is a great peg but not always available! It could be your latest product and its innovative technology, or a new executive appointed to drive new market penetration.

The hidden agendas
The customer story or new product is the news peg to grab the attention of the target journalist and hang all these important company messages on – but any press release should never really be ‘one message’.

The hidden agenda of the story about a customer win, new product, partnership or company results will be signalling success in certain markets, demonstrating leadership, positioning a company around a key technology or service and highlighting a USP in real-world context.

Relevant? Yes. The only game in town? No
If you are not using press releases and news announcements to communicate your B2B brand at all, you’re doing it wrong. If you are solely relying on them, you’re missing a trick.

A regular pattern of content including social, blogs, thought leadership, infographics, whitepapers, case studies and market analyses all add to the full pattern of activity that makes up a proactive media communications strategy. It’s all about building brands.

By Elizabeth Quinlan, PR Executive at IBA International.

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