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 that’s built into 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 e-newsletter, and 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 porta-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 e-newsletter, 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 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 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 sell.
7. Virtual scavenger hunt. Though 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 people update their sites 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. E-newsletter 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 be of interest only to current clients (or whoever subscribes to your e-newsletter), 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(s) would you suggest for sharing 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.