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Are Blog Posts Better Than Press Releases?

Why are we still writing press releases? If press releases are part of your work life, you’ve probably asked this question once or twice in the past year (or more). Really though, press releases require a lot of time and effort to produce and distribute. There are hard costs associated with the process. And I’ll go out on a limb here and challenge the return on investment from press releases – the results tend to be pretty lackluster, even from those fancy multimedia or social news releases. There has to be a better way, and I think that way is a news blog.

What would happen if you stopped writing press releases and instead started a blog dedicated to your company news? If I were working for a brand new start-up today – a company that’s never issued a press release – this is the path I would take. If you build an audience around your news blog, you create an earned media channel for instantly sharing your news with the most-interested audiences. This could be your most-trusted and most-likely-to-be-interested journalists and bloggers, but also could include customers, prospects, employees and all the other key audiences interested in your news.

A blog doesn’t charge you by the word length of your post, or try to upsell you on additional distribution. Distribution is earned by the quality and relevance of the information you share through the blog. Here are a few suggestions for using a news blog as an alternative to writing and distributing press releases. I think you’ll at least consider that blog posts could be better than press releases.

1. Make It Official – let all your existing contacts know that you’re no longer going to be sending out press releases. Send an email to all your contacts and encourage them to subscribe to the blog (make this announcement your first news post on the blog). If you have different types of news announcements, offer segmented subscription options to give your contacts more flexibility (this will drive better conversion, but also allow you to segment your distribution to the best targets).

2. Plan Your News Calendar – you’ll want to publish more frequently on the blog than you would probably send out press releases. This is your opportunity to play editor-in-chief of your own news blog. Develop some themes that will build interest for your content. You’re no longer limited to the tired press release format – you can write news stories on your blog. For example, maybe you have a monthly Q&A column with the CEO about what’s going on in your industry. You can profile a different person in your company each month. You can post your comments on major news and events going on in your industry. You can share insights into internal decisions guiding the development of new products, or share success stories your current customers want to share. Of course, you can post graphics, images, video and other multimedia to the blog as well. Maybe you have your product marketing leader discuss your latest product in a video, supported by an overview of features and a demo – that has to be more engaging than a press release. Over time, this content will lead to interview requests from journalists and bloggers.

3. Build An Archive – before you launch the blog, publish all of the past year’s press releases as posts on the day they appeared. These back-dated posts will serve as your news archive, but also give you valuable content to encourage search engines to rank your posts. This will help you pull more traffic to your news blog. Be sure to enlist the help of your interactive marketing or search engine marketing resources to optimize your posts for the relevant keywords you’re trying to rank for. The archive also invites new contacts to subscribe to your blog, because it gives them some history on the types of news you’re capable of delivering over time (granted, the quality will only get better from here).

4. Solicit Reader Feedback – unlike press releases, your blog is built for comments. Let people comment on your news – you’ll be surprised by the feedback you receive. It’s great to get instant feedback from your audiences on your news announcements. This also enables you to address any issues across your audiences that you might not have learned about through the traditional PR process.

5. Encourage Sharing – with integrated social sharing, your news will have equal or greater reach than before (depending on how social-friendly your releases were). You benefit from this sharing, versus the place your press releases used to be hosted. All the traffic comes back to you, providing you with more opportunities to engage your audience.

6. Track the Results – when all your news is on the blog, you’ll be able to tap into more in-depth analytics on the reach and interest surrounding your news announcements. You’ll know which outlets wrote about your news and linked back (great for SEO), but also be able to report to management (or your client) about the success of various news announcements. If you’re using a lead management or automation system, or an email service provider, you’ll be able to track the reach of your news down to specific journalists (and know whether or not the received the news, read it or read it several times). This type of intelligence is incredibly valuable for your media relations team that is responsible for securing coverage. With this gauge of interest, your team will be able to make better real-time decisions about who to call and follow-up with to secure coverage.

7. Save Money – how much did you spend last year on sending out press releases?  I bet it was more than the cost of hosting the blog. Sure, you’ll still have to pay people to write your content – and pitch those stories in some cases. If you do a good job building your audience, the press requests will come to you and not the other way around. This is inbound PR 101.

8. More Likely to Be Read – finally, press releases just aren’t that interesting to read. Blog posts stand a better chance to be read, provided you write them as stories. When you share a link to a blog post with a journalist about your latest news, I predict you’ll get a much stronger response than if you send them a press release. Try it on your next announcement and see what happens. I suspect you’ll make the switch.

This is a crazy idea, isn’t it? It’s not that crazy really. There are a lot of smart companies moving to the news blog as an alternative to traditional press releases. Google and HubSpot are two companies that come to mind. Both use their blogs as the primary channel for communicating their news – and it’s worked really well for them. You too can find success switching over to a news blog as your primary channel for communicating your news. If you’re not ready to jump in full force, you could always launch a news blog to test the waters and compare the results you get there versus your press releases. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

What do you think? Can a blog replace the traditional press release archive on your website? Is a blog post better than a press release? Do you still think a press release is the better option? Share your thoughts.

 

About Jeremy Porter

Jeremy Porter is co-founder and editor of Journalistics, a lively blog about public relations and journalism topics.

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  • Courtney

    “If you build an audience around your news blog, you create an earned media channel for instantly sharing your news with the most-interested audiences.”

    Interesting idea. Thanks for sharing. Although I don’t know if this would work that well for B2B. What about the audiences we *want* to reach, those who don’t know about us? Sometimes the sad truth is that people just don’t care about our industry-focused news unless we tie it in to something more broad. At least a press release gets it “out there” more. Plus, a news release can be creative — no need to stick to the boringly written paradigm. Another hiccup is that often a company’s competitors are entrenched in the press release model, so investors or others are expecting you to follow that. Not doing so can be read as radio silence. Finally, regardless of its antiquity, a news release arguably has more of a “wow” factor and more presence than the publication of a blog post. Just some thoughts.

    • http://blog.journalistics.com Jeremy Porter

      I based my suggestions on my experience seeing this approach work well for B2B. The great thing about B2B is the subject matter tends to be so specific, it lends itself to being more discoverable in search engines. For example, I worked on a blog about mobile banking and payments. We receive a couple of request for comment per month from mainstream banking and technology trades as a result of the posts. So maybe companies should completely scrap press releases as I propose in the post (direct outreach still has a role), but perhaps the blog becomes the primary channel for pulling journalists to engage with you (what I would refer to as inbound PR). Thanks for the comments, I appreciate it.

  • http://www.youngatheartcommunications.com Diane Castro

    Interesting article. In my opinion it depends on what type of business you are and who your target audiences are. I think they both serve separate purposes — they are sort of like apples and oranges, so getting rid of one doesn’t work because they are both fruit — connected in the way that they serve to get essential information out to your public. So, I would say if you have a big announcement do a press release. You can also do a blog on the same topic, but have more details and a link to the press release so they can work together. Thanks, Diane Castro, CEO, Young at Heart Communications, LLC

  • http://identitypr.com/blog Nikki Little

    I really like this idea, and I can definitely see it working. Where I see it not working is with media who are set in their traditional ways.

    My agency has a press release site where we post all our releases and sometimes send just the link to media versus copying and pasting the release in the body of the email. I don’t do a ton of traditional media outreach anymore, but when I do, I opt for sharing the link to our news release site or creating a short blog post style overview of the news (not in traditional press release format) and putting that in the email.

    When I’ve just linked to the release on our site, I’ve had reporters ask me to send the release because they would rather have it there in their emails versus having to go to a different site. We also give media the option to subscribe to news releases from our clients on the site – similar to what you’re suggesting – but some simply aren’t interested.

    I think this can be a great option for media who frequently blog and use social media, but I don’t see it working for ones who still like to get the job done in the traditional way.

  • http://lee-green.me Lee Green

    Our clients sometimes actually send press releases about their new blog posts. It’s a great way to generate exposure and drive traffic to your posts.

    • http://blog.journalistics.com Jeremy Porter

      I like this idea. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://beachbettypr.com Shelly Cone

    I have been a journalist for nearly two decades and I own a marketing and copywriting company so I am also responsible for helping my clients get media exposure. I think everyone wants this magic way to get publicity without the effort. It’s the same reason why people buy those magic diet pills that allow you to eat what you want, not exercise and still lose weight. However, like anything else you want you’ve got to put in the work.

    As a journalist, I know the press release is still the most effective way of directly reaching the intended audience–reporters. Press releases are not really there to reach consumers. That’s why they are written the way they are. They are an efficient means to get reporters information.

    Unless you are a huge company like Google, with reporters assigned exclusively to cover you, you will not likely have reporters anxiously awaiting your next blog post to see what your latest news is. However, when I receive a press release from a company and I am interested in doing a story I love to go to their site and see a regularly updated blog and current news tab providing me with more info.

    But, not sending out a press release and not actively trying to build relationships with reporters and get your news out there is just not good PR.

    • http://blog.journalistics.com Jeremy Porter

      I think not sending out press releases is good PR, but that’s just me. I agree wholeheartedly that direct outreach is good PR, I just don’t think the press release is the best medium for the message. A well-written email (or tweet) could be more effective at generating interest. I think there are plenty of companies out there that can generate a lot of interest off of press releases – but I suspect it’s usually the follow-up and pitching behind the release that gets the results, not the release on its own. I appreciate your perspective – thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • http://mountainlyon.blogspot.com JoLynne

    We went this direction at work, mostly because our audience is more local. It’s a good option but after a couple years I’ve noticed we’ve started letting jargon creep into our writing because we think our readers are all part of the community. It’s a trend we have to fight constantly. It’s also too easy to assume that the word is out if we write a blog post; sometimes you need to pitch–and even craft a press release–as well.

  • http://www.socialmediapresskit.com Moriam Hassan Balogun

    Hi Jeremy (posted this on PR daily already, but since you’re here… ;-)

    Interesting views here, although I’d have to disagree with a number of your points… Firstly the claim that press release hardly get published (perhaps not in these such words) is dependent on so many factors. One thing I would definitely state is that you should only send press release if you have ‘real’ news and promotions or the like don’t classify in my opinion as really newsworthy, generally speaking.

    Within one of my companies which is a women’s online magazine my editorial receive hundreds of press releases a day. Most go straight into the bin because they are very badly written, have no news or are disguised as blogs which is really not what journalists want. Journalists don’t visit blogs for news…

    I advise all of my clients to blog with the idea of a blog being the tool to communicate and share their knowledge on a certain subject and not to promote commercially. Blog visitors are interested in the subject matter which is why they visit and why they share but they often have a different level of influence than a journalist or blogger who ultimately is also looking for specific news content (press releases) in order to create their own content. if it comes to a point that press releases are published as blogs then you kind take away the ‘privilege’ that was once given to the journalist/blogger and can end up damaging any possible relationship you had with them. We have a 100% turnover on the press releases (social media press kit) which we distribute, yes a lot of time is invested in getting the press release perfect and targeted to the journalist or blogger but it’s absolutely worth it. I’ve never understood why companies or pr profs think that a low quality press release deserves the attention of the journalist or their reader. So it most certainly pays off to invest the time and getting that press release right!

    With regards to the tips you’ve given I think they are applicable for press releases as well, not just blogs. With a lot of social media release tools all of that is done for you and as for saving money you can shop around, you can build up your own press contact list and as for SEO well, press releases are better than blogs if distributed within a platform which is linked to Google news for example.

    At the end of the day a blog has a certain purpose which works well just a much as a press release which in general is not a publicly open piece of information. It becomes that once the journalist or blogger has created a unique story and published it. This is the advantage of it. As a company sending press releases we want others to tell our story and share this in their light so that it reaches their readers or followers. That’s PR!

    • http://blog.journalistics.com Jeremy Porter

      Moriam – thanks for the comment. I agree with your first point (people should only send releases for real “news”). I think there are plenty of exceptions to the idea I propose in this post, but I think for the most part, the majority of releases that are produced aren’t worth the effort put into them. I remember a while back I did a bunch of research for a post that was going to be “great examples of press releases”. I found three – out of hundreds. Press releases are an interruption for journalists. Some embrace the interruption and take the time to review them (deleting most, acting on a few). What I like about blogs, is you’ll only pull the most interested journalists, which ultimately results in better coverage for arguably less effort. Every organization is different and press releases apparently work for many. For others, the blog route might work better.

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  • Karl

    Interesting idea, and it’s always good to reassess outreach strategies — but unworkable, I think. If your primary audience consists of journalists, they are, in my opinion as both a PR professional and a journalist, most interested in the story you have to give them. They’re interested in the news. In this news-blog scenario, you’re requiring them to hope that they might find compelling news in it somewhere and then subscribe to, or constantly check out, your blog. I know of few journalists who have the time or resources to do that, except in the cases of large corportations that generate news on a daily basis — the Exxon Mobiles, Apples, and Googles of the world. A blog is a fine communcations tool, but a direct, focused news release is efficient.

  • http://www.scapr.com Susan Carol

    We replaced our e-newsletter with a blog but for clients, there are still reasons to issue press releases.

  • http://www.dsprel.com Alan Graner

    I disagree. Respectfully.

    Blogs are nice if people know about your company. Most don’t. Press releases reach people who’ve never heard of you and give them a reason to visit your website and blog.

    Blogs don’t appear in national magazines, publications and newspapers. Press releases do.

    Blogs may work if the audience is narrow, e.g., your neighborhood or HazMat uniforms. But trying to deliver your blog to a widely diverse audience is extremely time consuming, if not impossible.

    From a psychological point of view, I think most people perceive press releases as being more objective and credible than blogs, which many consider company “mouthpieces.”

    It’s true 80% of press releases are crap. But the same is true for blogs.

    Blogs and press releases each have their own strengths and weaknesses. A good PR pro knows when to use each. Or both.

    • Ed Bryson

      This is the winning comment in this thread. Like any PR tactic, how about we use them when they add value for the client?!

  • Scott Giacoppo

    We have been moving in this direction with those releases that may not necessarily be big news but are still sending out a standard release anytime there is big news to share. I’m not 100% on board with making the switch completely but I think it may not be too far off. Interesting article though, it makes me think that maybe we should move towards this a bit faster.

  • http://bloggerkhan.com Najee

    For SEO purposes, a Press Release submitted via a well known press release site will give you better weightage with Google than your own blog because their page rank is higher than your site. So you get link juice from a higher authority.

    • http://blog.journalistics.com Jeremy Porter

      That’s mostly true. However, you’re only looking at one side of the equation for this argument. The authority of a press release is lower than most reputable blogs or news sites out there that would link to the content on your news. If somebody links to the news release you send out, it’s likely the news service that’s benefiting from those inbound links. Once you start publishing to the blog, you’re giving everyone (not just reporters and bloggers) more content to like, share and link to – which improves the authority of your blog, and attracts more traffic to your site (the end goal for most online PR tactics).

  • http://www.upperlinefinancial.com Jude Boudreaux

    I have the same concerns that Alan raises. I’ve got a small company and we’re doing great things, but we can’t seem to get any notice from the local press. I’m not sure that Press Releases would help that, but I feel like it would at least have the chance of being seen, where with what I’m doing on my blog I think there’s very little chance of being seen.

    It is a plus that my followers and community would get that information, though. Possibly a dual strategy?

    • http://blog.journalistics.com Jeremy Porter

      I probably should have clarified the strategy here. I’m not suggesting that you go from sending releases out on a wire service to publishing a blog post and hoping somebody swings by to read it. You still have to work to build your audience through the blog. With SEO tactics, this will happen organically over time. In the beginning, you have to get the word out to your network. Encourage them to opt-in to get your posts via email. Share links to your posts via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or whatever channel is most relevant for your content. Over time, you’ll see that you get better results off the blog then you do from the releases. You can also set a long term plan to using the blog, and start linking to the “full version of this release” on your blog for each release you send out. This will encourage people to subscribe to your blog for news updates. This strategy isn’t for anybody, but I disagree with other comments that say it can’t work for smaller companies.

  • http://www.yourppl.com Lynne Golodner

    Great post, Jeremy, and kudos to you for going out on a limb. There are people who like business the way they’ve always known it and people who take chances. Probably we need both, but we are in a brave new world now and I think your idea is brilliant. When I created my PR/Marketing company 5 years ago, I didn’t set out to reinvent the wheel – I set out to gain exposure for my clients through storytelling and innovation. My press pitches don’t look like traditional press releases and my way of doing things isn’t school-taught – it works for us – and it works to take chances. Every day, we should try something new int he way we do business – and the things that stick, will probably take us farther than the status quo.

  • http://www.socialmediapresskit.com Moriam Hassan Balogun

    The issue could simply be that the majority of press releases which are being sent simply aren’t press worthy. I think this is the case most of the time. Its very difficult to see the newsworthy value of your own product or service objectively especially when you live and breath your company. So its handy to ask someone outside of your network for their opinion on your news. If the response isn’t what you expect or wanted then this provides you with the fuel to improve your release and bring the news possibly in a different way so that it’s more attractive, or even start over with a different angle. It does take time and it is worth the effort. I don’t think this differs for small companies either although product releases from larger organisations are often picked up more quickly than others, there is still plenty of room and methods for new co’s/products/services to get press attention via press releases. I’m also a strong believer of targeting your press releases to specific journalists and bloggers and developing relationships but totally see the benefits of sending via press release distribution services for SEO and google news purposes. At the end of the day, every release has to be tailored for the audience who are to receive it, attractive in content and make it as efficient as possible for the journalist who is to receive it so they can create a unique piece for you.

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  • http://www.stanleyrao.org/ Stanley Rao

    I feel its both.. both through its various kinds of strategies and techniques know how to attract the audience and are useful enough in their own ways….

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  • http://www.launch.it Trace Cohen

    A press release just based on it’s name is intended for the press and not consumer facing. You can easily modify it though by removing the boiler plate and changing some of the wording into a well thought-out and engaging blog post.

    Having worked with numerous PR agencies over the past year with my new company, I ask them all, where does your new live online? Most of them say that it doesn’t – they merely send it out to people but never publish it anywhere, even on their company or client website. That baffles me… A lot of your job relies on the sheer idea that your news needs to be found but you rely solely on someone else to do that for you? It takes 10minutes to publish it on your site, my site and a whole host of others to give someone the opportunity of it being found.

    Is a press release better than a blog post? I think they are almost one in the same these days. Do a lot of media copy and paste press releases on their site and call it an article? More than they would like to admit (http://churnalism.com/). Is that a bad thing? No. You wrote a good story and they need content so it’s almost a win-win (I say almost because you don’t usually get credit for it).

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  • http://www.hoggingup.com Cindy

    Hi, I just wanted to say thanks. I’ve spent the last hour reading everything on your site about press releases. We’re doing a festival SOON and need to figure out how to do a press release. It’s very helpful that you explain the pros and cons and what days of the week are best, it’s like your blog should be called Press Release 101.

    • http://blog.journalistics.com Jeremy Porter

      Ha, thanks Cindy. I’ll take your blog re-naming suggestion in mind. I’m glad the posts helped. Please feel free to email or comment if you have suggestions for other topics that would be helpful in the work you do. Cheers!

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