Has the Press Release Become Obsolete?

Courtesty of PRMusuem.org

Courtesty of PRMusuem.org

In our business, the press release has always been the primary tool in which we share information regarding our clients with the media. One hundred thirteen years to be exact (written by the PR legend himself Ivy Lee, also a former NYTimes reporter)! Dating back to 1906, the press release has been a staple in our industry, and even as technology has evolved throughout the years, it has remained a key device in the toolbox of some PR professionals’.

Sometimes I wonder though, with all that’s changed, especially now, in a world dominated by social media and instant connections, is the press release still a valuable asset or are these more precise and effective ways a better choice when it comes to conveying information? Depending on who you talk to, you’ll probably get a difference of opinion. There are industry professionals who will tell you the press release should have long been retired, some think its dead right now, and others believe it’s still a viable medium.

This got me thinking about the issue of whether or not the press release is obsolete, and if it isn’t entirely, should it be? I must admit I do find them to be a bit “boring,” especially now when there are so many other options to get our clients out there and in front of the right people. Editors are constantly being pitched with creative hooks and storylines that sending a copy and paste of a release just doesn’t stand out like it used to.

That’s not to say I have completely laid the historic tool to rest just yet. There are certain situations, although minimal, in which I will use one. For instance…..

A business oriented client is announcing a raise of say a few million dollars and they want to announce the news on the wire, as a way to increase their SEO on the topic.

To increase SEO without posting it on the wire.

At times I will use the press release as a reference when attaching it to my formal (creative) pitch. In this case I’ll include more details about the announcement in my press release, including a quote or two from the brand rep so that a writer can review it for further details.

I have found that the best way for myself and my team here at JMGP PR is to secure a placement with a creative/targeted pitch offering an exclusive to an editor. The goal, figure out a story that is important and timely, then weave in your news.

Over the years I’ve made some real connections with editors and on occasion, have had the opportunity to bring up this particular debate. One editor in particular, who I work with on a consistent basis, admits that when press releases overtake her inbox she often finds herself hitting delete without ever reading. As a PR professional, I had to know why and the answer was quite simple. With so many press releases pouring in along with pitches, wading through the emails is extremely time consuming.

For the releases she does open, they don’t stand a chance if they are lengthy. What she wants is something creative and concise, and feels tailored, not general copy that was blasted out to hundreds of other media outlets.  

Not only did I find her reasons interesting, I made sure to make a mental note of them because if she felt this way, I had to believe so did a lot of other editors. And that’s one of the things I love about this business; no matter how long you’re in it, you’re constantly learning something new. 

There is no right or wrong answer on this subject, and while some of us have moved away from using the press release and found alternative methods to share our clients’ news, others continue to believe it is still a useful tool.

So….I’m calling out to all editors, journalists, and industry professionals. What is your take on the press release? Do you think it’s still alive, on its way out, or completely extinct? Share your thoughts and stories with us here at office@jmgpr.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Xo

Jenna

Crafting the Perfect Pitch – Why First Impressions Are So Important

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As literary great J.K. Rowling once said, “A good first impression can work wonders.” And that had me thinking about how important it is in business to bring authenticity to everything we do, and do it well, right from the start. Even before we land a client, we need to think about the approach, and the best way in which to highlight why we are the right fit.

One of the things I love about this business are the opportunities to connect with other creative people, and from time to time, share some of the knowledge we’ve learned along the way.

Recently, I had an opportunity to connect with someone I had met at one of the business groups I belong to, and while she wasn’t a publicist per se, her field of expertise includes managing talent. In the process of getting press for a client, she asked me to look over a pitch she had put together to send to an editor. Of course I gladly said yes, and not only was I able to help her out, it sparked the idea to share with all of you some of my tips on crafting an effective pitch. First impressions are lasting – hopefully I’m leaving my mark with this one!

  Know who you’re pitching – Be completely aware of who you’re pitching and their target audience. Is the person or product a fit for them, is your pitch related to what they usually cover? A little bit of research beforehand can go a long way.

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  Story angle should be front and center – As soon as you start your pitch, your angle should be upfront and to the point in a clear and quick way. A long-winded pitch takes way too much time for the recipient to read and you want to let them know you value their time. Be clear right from the start on what it is you’re looking for.

Credits upfront – Point out your client’s credits right from the start. If they’ve won an award, been recognized in their field for something specific, or are number one at something, those kinds of accolades should be shared from the start. They add a level of credibility to your client so why not allow those achievements to pop.

  A brief description in the body – What makes your client unique? You know why your client is a standout, now it’s time to share their value. Make sure to address questions like, why will the audience will be interested in the story, why it will attract traffic and interest? You don’t want your recipient to have to ask themselves these questions, the last thing they’re going to want is extra work.

  Indicate additional information is included – There’s a good chance you may have additional information in the form of images or even press articles and it’s always a good idea to include as you wrap up your pitch. Don’t suggest that you have the information and can send if requested; share it from the get-go. You want to make saying yes as seamless as possible.

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  Social media engagement – While this is not directly related to one particular pitch, social media engagement can lay some groundwork with a particular outlet. With a couple of likes, and even a few comments, you can put your company’s name on their radar, or at the very least, leave them with that familiar feeling.

Craft a unique pitch for every recipient - No matter how many people / outlets you’re pitching your client to, do not, and I repeat, do not send out a generic email. A copy and paste job can be spotted a mile away and is a sure fire way to have your email sent straight to the trash. Avoid using templates as well – authentic pitches, while a little more time consuming, will wind up proving to be more successful in gaining placements for your clients. 

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Media outlets, editors, journalists, all receive countless pitches on a daily basis so it’s extremely important to do everything in your power to make the ones you send stand out from the rest. Get creative, be authentic, and remember, first impressions are often lasting impressions.

What are some of the ways in which you approach putting together an effective and creative pitch? We’re all about collaboration here at JMG PR and would love to hear from you!

xo Jenna

The PR Tool Box For Every Business

As we’re full steam ahead in 2019, JMGR PR is busier than ever but I’m always thinking of ways in which we can grow and what I have realized is that to build up a strong company, you need to have the right “tools” in your toolbox. They might seem basic, but they are the foundation of who you are and what your business is all about. They’re the building blocks your company stands on, and every so often they need to be tended to. Like a garden needs certain nutrients to thrive, so does our business.

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I receive lots of questions from others – some just starting out, some ready to venture out on their own, and I thought I would share a few of the necessary tools “every” business person should consider having in their “toolbox.”

Professional website

Most first impressions happen on-line so it’s important to make yours be the best it can be. No matter the size of your company, your website should convey the message that your team is dedicated to servicing whatever it is your business represents. At JMGPR, we work with clients to assess their needs and provide the right type of PR. Whether it’s our PR Express Method, or the Full Experience, our website breaks it all down with something for everyone.

An “About Us” description

This write up should be short and sweet but full of information that will hook a potential client right from the start. Simply put, it’s your 30 second elevator pitch and it can set you apart from others in your field so you want to make sure you really sell yourself here.

Bio

A written bio will help potential clients get to know you a little better. It’s an important part of your website and can also be used for networking and speaking events. I’ve been a guest speaker on numerous occasions at various events and having a bio already prepared will save you time when it’s needed on short notice. Include information such as where you went to school up to where you are today. Trust me, people love getting to know who you are.

Key Messaging

It’s really important to have the most important top line information on hand. People tend to talk a lot about their product or service in complex terms using jargon and the “what it does” often gets lost.

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Headshots

Contrary to what some people think, headshots are not just for actors; they are also a representation of you and your business. A useful tool that helps to define your personal image, headshots can assist in growing your brand. They also allow people who follow you to create a personal connection with you as an individual. By seeing a photo, it gives people a sense of familiarity, like they know you once you actually meet in real life.

Update your headshots on a regular basis - I update mine once every quarter. New headshots provide us with fresh content that can be used for blog posts and social media content. Plus, your look may change and the photo everyone sees should be exactly what you look like NOW.

Different shots for different things - I generally categorize headshots by business and lifestyle. Business headshots are the more professional ones where you are looking straight at the camera or even slightly angled. Life-style shots are the most fun to take because that’s where you can be more creative with what you wear, how you’re sitting, the setting, etc. If I’m interviewed for a more consumer driven media outlet where the questions asked might be lighter, I’ll generally use the lifestyle photo. The business ones are really for when I’m being interviewed about my career.

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Pre-shoot preparations - I like to have a few different looks, one causal, one professional, and the third is usually a toss-up and all depends on when I’m shopping and what outfits jump out at me. I love to have fun with fashion and I try to have that come across in those lifestyle shots. It’s a window into who I am which is important for potential clients to see.

Choosing the right photographer – This is so important! Your photographer can really “make

or break” the way in which your headshots turn out. Find someone you’re not only comfortable with, but who gets your vision and understands what it is you’re looking to accomplish. It’s also a good idea to take a look at other work they’ve done to get a sense of their style. Although you’re taking these photos for business related purposes, it should still be a fun experience. A good photographer should also help you feel comfortable in front of the camera. It can be a strange feeling at first if you’re not used to taking solo photos but it can also be a lot of fun.

Social Media

Having a presence on social media is an essential piece of your business marketing strategy. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, should all be a part of your on-line presence. Not only are these outlets a great way to reach millions of potential and current clients worldwide, it’s a smart way to spread the word about your business, increase visibility, and give you another level of credibility. While having social media accounts is important, staying active on them is the key. Start conversations, engage and interact with others, and convey your brand’s message. This is one of your most important tools and a “must have” for every business.

I myself am constantly evolving and growing in my business and always learning from other leaders. As JMGPR evolves, so may some of the tools I relay on. We’d love to hear from all of you on some of the “tools” you have in your business toolbox!

Xo Jenna