Thanksgiving lessons all PR pros should learn

What do press releases have to do with stuffing ourselves silly? A lot more than you think.

Thanksgiving is a time when we overindulge, heaping our plates with turkey and mashed potatoes, not to mention pumpkin pie. While the food may be wonderful, you can sometimes have too much of a good thing.

The same is true with press releases. While press releases are a great way to share your news with the media, you can overdo it.

Here are some PR lessons learned from Thanksgiving dinner:

You can go to the buffet table too many times: If you issue press releases more than twice a month to generate buzz, it can backfire. Reporters may start to view the releases as marketing or spam. This is especially true if you reach out to a limited number of trade reporters who cover your industry.

Don’t forget your veggies: With so many tasty things to eat, you can sometimes forget the basics. By the same token, it’s important to remember that press releases are actually “news releases.” The goal of a news release is to share news and information with the media and public. So remember that you should issue news releases when you have something newsworthy to say, such as announcing:

  • New products or services
  • Executive appointments
  • Major sales (group into one momentum release)
  • Awards
  • Research findings
  • Events such as a TweetChat, Twitter party or webinar

It’s all about relationships: The holidays are about spending time with family. Press releases also are a great way to develop your relationships with reporters and editors. There is a marketing rule that you need to reach out to people three times in order to make an impression. That’s why we talk about using a “rolling thunder” strategy and issuing press releases on a regular basis. Not only does this help keep your organization top-of-mind, but you can use these releases as a way to develop relationships with key reporters.

After cooking all day, someone needs to clean up: The work isn’t done once the dinner is cooked. Someone needs to go back and clean the dishes. The same goes with press release. It’s not enough to just issue a press release on the newswire. You need to reach out to reporters. Don’t call them to follow-up on a press release. Instead, follow-up on a story angle and ask them what types of stories they’re working on and whether they’re interested in this type of story.

Try it, you’ll like it: I read a great post from Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases, which explained that sometimes it’s better to forego issuing a press release and find another way to share your information. Consider the following:

  • Develop a bylined article. If your goal is to generate news coverage, there’s really not a better way to do this than writing the news story yourself. This not only lets you frame the news, but helps establish your executives as thought leaders.
  • Write a white paper or case study. Like a bylined article, this is a great way to tell your own story, but doesn’t require having to sell it to a reporter. These types of documents can be posted on your website and used as a sales tool. What’s not to like?
  • Turn it into a blog post. Blogs are social media’s answer to the OpEd. Granted, it might need a little tweaking to be more conversational in tone, but you can either post it on your website or pitch it to a more established blog. Then you can post links or excerpts via Twitter and Facebook.
  • Turn the release into a video. A picture is worth a thousand words. Consider whether you might be able to shoot a short video that brings your story to life. It’s a great way to have people put executive names with faces. Again, you can post this on YouTube and your website, and link to it on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Pitch an exclusive story. Reporters love an exclusive. So instead of issuing a press release, consider developing a targeted media pitch and offer it to one of your key reporters. Not only might this lead to a high-visibility placement, but it’s another opportunity to hone relationships with key media contacts.
  • Develop an OpEd or Letter to the Editor. These can provide a way to generate coverage in one of your target media. However, they can’t be overly promotional and need to be clearly linked to a news angle.

Jenn Riggle is an associate vice president and social media leader of the Health Practice at CRT/tanaka. She regularly engages in social media, both on Twitter (@riggrl) and frequently blogs about social media and health care issues for The Buzz Bin, where a version of this article ran.

Topics: PR

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