The Power of the Press Release

January 3, 2024

Top 5 reasons PR pros can’t ignore this tried-and-true tactic

By Hank Nathan

As a new year begins, in the communications field, January is often marked with resolution pitching tied to the brands we represent, full-year reporting (talk about an exciting way to return from the holidays) and the top trends for the year ahead. What will this year’s big topic be, like AI was for 2023?

At the same time, the start of a new year often renews the age-old questions: Should PR teams write fewer press releases this year? Are they worth our time? Do media care? Well, I’m here to tell you – yes, press releases do matter, even in 2024. And here are the top reasons why, according to our team at HSN PR:

1. Believe it or not, media still find them helpful. Based on Cision’s 2023 Global State of the Media Report, journalists consider press releases one of the most trusted sources of information. They also are the No. 1 source for generating content or ideas, followed by industry experts. What’s more, adding multimedia elements increases engagement by up to six times than with text alone.

2. Boost SEO. While often not the first objective of any announcement, press releases can help drive traffic to your website, especially if they are distributed over a wire where more users will click on the backlink. Wire services are also some of the highest web traffic drivers.

3. You control the message. As PR professionals know, and they often remind clients of this, earned media means journalists have discretion over what’s included in their story. While we do our best to influence media to publish something positive, at the end of the day, it’s out of our control. That’s where press releases come in. This is an opportunity for a brand to tell the story it wants (apart from the legal department and stakeholders’ feedback), including key messages, data points and quotes. While media may not always use what’s in a press release verbatim, it can help guide them if they are interested in writing a story.

4. Multi-audience. While many people think the only audience of a press release is media, that’s not usually the case. Sure, reaching media is often the primary objective, but typically with any press release multiple stakeholders or partners may be involved or impacted, including funders, a company mentioned in the announcement, investors, customers, and not to mention internal staff. For any major company announcement, it’s important to share the press release with staff before they read about it in the news, even if it’s not much advanced notice, so they feel more connected and understand how their work makes a difference.

5. Provide credibility. How many times have you emailed media and they responded, “send me the press release”? Well, if you don’t have one to send, that exchange ends right there. But if you do, then it can keep the conversation going and give you another opportunity to sell that person on the importance of the story you’re sharing. The bottom line is press releases are table stakes in this industry, so if you don’t have one (or at least another press material that’s equally as official), then you may lose some credibility with media.

So, when you’re launching your next product or want to commemorate a big event, distributing a press release matters, this year and every year.

Did we leave something off the list or want to debate the merits of a press release? Let us know by commenting on this post on LinkedIn. And if you’re looking for press release support, contact our team to learn how we can help craft announcements and maximize visibility.