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Gini Dietrich

No One Cares About Your News Release

By: Gini Dietrich | May 7, 2012 | 
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A few weeks ago, a Facebook fan asked on our page, “Is it OK to post our news releases on our blog?”

Dear Facebook fan, see image to the left.

Just a couple of days ago, I was perusing through my personal Facebook stream and a friend of mine posted pretty much the same question.

Dear Facebook friend, see image to the left.

Actually, what I commented is exactly what the image says (even the “the end”) and Jennifer Windram thought it was funny enough to create the image (thank you, Jen!).

In 2001, I joined an advertising agency to help build their PR department. The first few months were really exciting because the account managers were introducing us to their clients and we were providing a new service. Super fun and lots of immediate work to do.

And then.

The creative guys kept bringing their pretty new ads and asking me to “do some PR” around them.

Um. No.

Here’s the thing. There is a time and a place for news releases. But running them verbatim on your blog or linking to them through your social networks is not the place. Just like wanting journalists to write a story about your pretty new ad is a hopeless desire.

Social media, content, blogging…this whole digital place we live in is about engagement and intelligent conversation and community building.

It’s not about you. It’s about them.

It’s about your customers, your employees, your board, your prospects, your community, and even your competition.

By posting your news release on your blog or social networks, you’re making it about you. And there is only one person in this entire world who cares about you as much as you do: Your mom.

So, unless your mom is your only customer, it’s time to think about how to make your digital presence about those who do buy from you.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

78 comments
carriewriter
carriewriter

I disagree with this. I have had excellent results using news releases on our nonprofit blog. 1. The SEO value is great and several of our stories come up at the top of search results specifically because of the blog. 2. We had a news station cover our story in February, and they directly linked to the press release/blog post on their website! This was ABC7 San Francisco. 3. We use it as a way to feed our news gallery on our website and it is great to streamline information on a regular basis.

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

Does your mother even care about your NEWS, never you mind the release? Think @lauraclick is right about there being a time and place for a GOOD release; and @KenMueller is right about a 'news' section or hello, newsroom if you're wanting SEO ( cc @jennwhinnem @EricaAllison ) Or if you're big enough, more than one blog: one for actual people, one for the 4 people who might stop and read the press release (including two who did - by accident). And FWIW, my mother doesn't care about most of my 'news' - she's all, 'yeah whatever, that's nice, it'll work it' - unless my news is more about her. ;-)

ElissaFreeman
ElissaFreeman

So here's a thought...sometimes you may even actually have to write a release that you KNOW will not get any real pick-up...but you want your competitors or other like-minded organizations to see what you're up to  because they monitor such things. I used to see this ALL THE TIME when I worked for a NFP...

margieclayman
margieclayman

Hi Gini,

 

Uhoh, I'm going to leave a serious comment on your blog site. I'm not sure that's ever happened before :o 

 

The important thing about this post to me is that you note "there is a time and a place for news releases." I think too often people take the advice, "Don't post your news releases to the social web" too far. They say, "Oh OK. News Releases are bogus now. Got it."

 

This is far from the truth.

 

For a lot of our clients, news releases are great wins. A lot of publications publish news releases almost as soon as we send them out, so our clients get link juice from credible sources. It's a great way to show you're a vital, growing source in your industry. And so on.

 

But if you use your blog site for your news releases, you'll get booed out of your pants. And that's uncomfortable for everybody.

 

Time and a place indeed. 

Latest blog post: In Defense of Agencies - Again

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

For Immediate Release:

Subject: News Release

Arment Dietrich and Spin Sucks the rock star public relations agency and blog written by Social Media super Ninjas announced today they don't care about no steenkin news release. They don't care about your news release. Your momma's news release, or your cab drivers new release.

Date: May 7, 2012

Distribution: The Earth and part of the Milky Way Galaxy

For Immediate Release:

Subject: Secondary News Release

The Chief Alien of Sky Pulse Media who rules the most of the Milky Way Galaxy  and Several Others as their benevolent Dictator, where Arment Dietrich does not have legal authority to release any news releases, agrees with their news release today.

Date: May 7, 2012 Earth

bradmarley
bradmarley

I came to this blog post intending to disagree with you, because I think there is a time and a place for a press release. But then I saw that you wrote those words, and my entire argument was deflated.

 

In short, most companies could stand to cut their press release output by 90 percent.

NancyD68
NancyD68

THIS is what i tried to tell the bosses. I know that stuff is garbage, but that is what the client wanted. I had to write news releases that really were not news, and worse, make a company that was not very good sound great.

 

TheJackB
TheJackB

I can't tell you how many pitches I receive that are nothing more than a badly worded request for me to run a release verbatim.

 

"Dear Mom Blogger,

 

With Mother's Day just around the corner everyone knows that it is time to buy mom the perfect gift. We have the perfect solution. It is battery operated, environmentally friendly and guaranteed to make mom smile. Blah, blah, blah

 

We would love it if you would just run this on your blog because every one of your readers is a mother, er, has a mother and they deserve to feel special on their day.

 

Best,

 

PR/Marketing department.

 

Not that anyone cares, but I hate it when people use "best" as their signature. What the hell does that mean. It is gibberish that is as about as useful as text speak.

 

Might as well pitch me by saying:

 

Deer Mister Blahger,

 

Ah wuld appresheate it if u wuld ruhn my vary imporhtant newws storee so eye look gud to my client.

 

Blah, blah, blah

 

 

jennimacdonald
jennimacdonald

Very  helpful post Gini and great resource to refer back to! Thanks.

bdorman264
bdorman264

What? Excuse me, but it's all about me; you should know that  by now. And I've found I can't do enough press releases. It used to be nobody would respond to my twitter account when I told them I went to Starbucks, but now that I put it in a press release............well, let's just say it's a night and day difference. 

 

And since my mama is my only blog subscriber; it's pretty obvious she loves her baby boy........

 

Ok, you want me to be serious now? Good, I didn't think so........

 

As much as you might like, it CAN NOT be about you. People read your crappy press release and they just want to jam a ball point pen in their ear or something. You definitely have to be outward thinking, which apparently isn't easy for some.............obviously, huh.............:)

KristenDaukas
KristenDaukas

Would it be terribly crass of me to save this post and send it to the clients that don't understand why their press releases (that they want written about every breath they breathe) aren't generating TONS of calls from the media? Maybe if I framed it? My hunch is that they're slapping them on their blogs because they haven't generated any other content. And a press release is a bunch of words put together and that's content, right?!

Latest blog post: Joie de Vivre

EricaAllison
EricaAllison

I agree with you and what @lauraclick  had to say. I would also add that there IS a place for your news release on your website and that's the News Room or Media Room (whichever moniker you prefer). That way, you have a spot for it should the press come callin' and you get some search results from it as well.

 

And as Laura wisely points out, a bad release is just that. Good ones: timely, relevant, newsworthy ones, are awesome and need a much better place than your blog.

lauraclick
lauraclick

I think it should be no one cares about your BAD news release. So many times businesses want news releases on things that aren't news (whether it's for the press or your blog). Your example of a release for an ad is a good one.

 

However, if the release is good, relevant and timely to your customers, I think it can work on your blog.  I will say  that it depends on your blog's tone and voice. Look at your blog, for example. Your new book is most definitely news. And, I'm betting you have a news release for it. But, you didn't post that here. You did, however, announce it on your blog.

 

I think that the best way to go about it is to take your news release and repackage the information in a way that matches the voice of your blog. That way, it won't stick out like a sore thumb and you can frame it in a way that will help readers. There are some news items that will never be a good fit for your blog, but I definitely think that businesses should use their blog to communicate newsworthy information to their customers.

 

 

 

 

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @carriewriter It's great the blog is working for you in that way! Perhaps I'm a purist, but if we were working with you, I'd recommend you use that exact strategy on your website and use the blog to create a personality for the non-profit brand, to engage donors, volunteers, and clients, and to create valuable information. A blog is not a news feed for an organization, even if it does work in the way you've seen success.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @ElissaFreeman I do think there is a time and a place for the news release. I don't think it belongs on your blog or social networks. Creating them for SEO purposes or for the reasons you outline are effective. Writing one and then copying and pasting it to your blog defeats the purpose of blogging.

NancyD68
NancyD68

 @TheJackB pitches like that are why I am happy to be a small fry still. Idon't get bothered with such nonsense :)

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @Jill Tooley One of the first things we do with new clients is work with them to revise their web content. I always tell them we have to get the French out of there - the we, we, we. If you start there, they soon begin to understand where it's appropriate and where it's not.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @bdorman264 Well Bill, I need to revise this blog post. Because you're right...it's all about YOU

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @KristenDaukas LOL!! Another friend posted on FB, "Send this to all of your client!" You're right about why they're posting releases on their blogs. They need to listen to @thesaleslion and figure out how to write content around the questions their customers and prospects are already asking. And it's not what's in your news release.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @EricaAllison  @lauraclick Yes, I agree there is a spot for your news release on your WEBSITE. But not on your blog. Too many PR pros are being asked to copy and paste a news release that isn't newsworthy onto the blog to have something there. It doesn't work and it defeats the purpose.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @lauraclick ONLY if it's repackaged or rewritten. We actually don't have a news release for the book. Yes, I'm going to blog about it. Yes, our industry pubs are going to write about it. But we individualized the pitches for each organization. And if we did have a news release, it would never see the light of day on this blog.

SuziC
SuziC

@ginidietrich @carriewriter  Here's how I approached it. Maybe this will help. 

The PR Pro in me wanted an online press room so that reporters and 600+ franchisees could find basic info, do background on the company, read some previously posted press releases, pull an image with a few caption options, etc. I wanted to save them a phone call and make it super simple for them to get what they needed and in a timely fashion. 

The IT team wanted a blog. Oh, how they wanted a blog!  So one of the geniuses came up with this idea

"Suz... you can have your online press room and it will operate like a blog, BUT we still want a blog, so you'll get your press room, and we also need you to write a blog."

So, I ran two blogs: One that operated like a blog and another that operated like an online press room.  Both operated on Wordpress. 

Now, could the online press room have operated more cleanly? In my mind, yes. But, I was lucky to have a relationships with great, local business reporters who took a peek under the hood and let me know what worked for them and what didn't. We used that information to make the press room more usable. 

What's working for you? 

PaulLint
PaulLint

 @ginidietrich This is exactly the route we have gone down as well, why waste great SEO beneficial content on your blog. The blog is their to show the face behind the brand and engage with customers and have a more creative freedom to spread the word of your company.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

 @ginidietrich  @carriewriter Hmm, see, I have to agree a little with Carrie here. I've seen (and worked with) blogs in the past that have been mainly news feeds, with private forums used to continue the community and make a more unique feel to how the charity is working, and being served by the donors and constituents.

 

I think if the method works, that defines what the blog should be.

SuziC
SuziC

@ginidietrich @ElissaFreeman I would suggest that the type of writing you do for a press release will be very different stylistically speaking than the writing you do for your blog. 

The press release will follow AP style, etc. 
The blog will be more conversational, an insider's look, if you will. 


TonyBennett
TonyBennett

@ginidietrich @margieclayman Wow, that's only the second time Gini has ever agreed with someone. Also, I have to give a token male award this well since the last 3 winners were female. But You've inspired a new so Genius category for best blog commenter Margie. I bet you'll even win it!

bradmarley
bradmarley

 @ginidietrich Yes. Very true. I got fired up when I saw the headline and, admittedly, kinda skipped the part about posting verbatim on the blog. Now I'm embarrassed.

 

A blog's purpose is not for a news release.

SuziC
SuziC

(OOPS. Didn't edit in time. )

As far as the PRESS RELEASE... love it or hate it, I always have one in my back pocket when pitching. Invariably, I will have a reporter or two ask it to be sent to them so they can review it later. It's also a good idea to have your message points down. Heck, craft them into a pitch letter, a pitch tweet, a press release, a blog post, etc. You have them. You can send them. The sentiment will be the same, but the "packaging" will vary by type. It will help you stay on message and keep everyone else on the same page of the proverbial songbook. 

Frank_Strong
Frank_Strong

 @ginidietrich  @DannyBrown  @carriewriter  @PaulLint  I agree with that Gini.  Was thinking too after I left my initial comment, that releases generally get a bad wrap from reporters and ironically, PR people.  In other words, those around releases the most have a bias towards them.  However, if we talk to people outside our circles, I think the perception is a bit different. It's that exact experience that has shaped my views expressed here.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @Frank_Strong  @DannyBrown  @carriewriter  Perhaps the discussion is better had as you shouldn't copy and paste your news release on your blog. Like @PaulLint says below, the blog is to show the personality of the brand, not to regurgitate things that go on the wire or as attachments in an email to a journalist. I do think the blog can be used to announce things coming out of the company (I'm announcing two things here this month), but it's not a copy and paste of your news release. Both friends who asked me about this have executives who just want them to regurgitate their news releases and ad campaigns on the blog and I think that's wrong.

Frank_Strong
Frank_Strong

 @DannyBrown @carriewriter @ginidietrich I'm on board with the spirit of Carrie's response too.  Press releases too ought to be interesting, original content.  

 

I don't think you can post every release on a social site, but the more important release?  Absolutely.  I believe a big reason people fan business is to get the latest news -- they don't care about the format, as long as it's relevant content.  We can post anything, in any format, so long as it's relevant and adds value. 

 

As for blogging, my take on this is to post the release in distribution, then take another angle in a blog post.  That is to say add some insight, some analysis about why the announcement in the release matters.

 

Clearly I have bias, since my employer owns a press release distribution service, but it works and it works well. One of the reasons I love my job is because I believe in the products. And to borrow from the Hair Club for Men tag line, I like to tease my boss, I'm not just the PR guy -- I'm also a client. 

 

By the way, I found this post by way of another blog, which I find may not get a lot of traffic, but always has good analysis:

 

http://www.socializedpr.com/night-of-the-living-dead-press-release/

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