Gini Dietrich

No One Cares About Your News Release

By: Gini Dietrich | May 7, 2012 | 
85

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, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

  • Right on, Gini Dietrich.

    • ginidietrich

       @Shelley Pringle Thank you, Shelley Pringle!

  • Even my mom doesn’t care about the news release that come out of my office.

    • ginidietrich

       @Anthony_Rodriguez HAHAHAHA! 

  • Gini,
     
    Even newspapers don’t care about most news releases. I am the top editor at a daily, but we’re heavily focused on local. Our saying is “if it didn’t happen in or to our county, it ain’t news.” Yet, everyday we receive a couple hundred (no exaggeration) news releases that go straight to the trash can.
     
    The few that actually pertain to our market almost always make it into the paper.
     
    After 20 years in the news biz and the PR biz, I know this much. A good news release, like a good blog, can be a powerful tool. However, it has to be handled properly, and I believe a lot of people either don’t understand this, or they allow client pressure to force them into misuse of the news release.

    • ginidietrich

       @ClayMorgan You’re right, of course. If the news release (or pitch) is designed specifically for your daily, it works. But my point is it doesn’t work, no matter how good it is, on the social networks. It should NOT go on your blog. Ever.

  • rdopping

    But umm….what? It’s not about me? Bill Dorman  along with me will be disappointed for sure.
     
    Yeah, so it’s about engagement then, eh? As a guy with a niche working for a big firm coat-tailing off the industry that’s all I really have. Engagement. Maybe it’s a good way to learn the ropes as I work to build a community. for me,it’s really all about offering people in my world a place where they can go to find some info that may help their careers progress. Givin’ it away that way, for now.
     
    My mom is second biggest fan. My wife is my first. I have two followers already…….;-]

    • ginidietrich

       @rdopping  I spoke last night with Jay Baer and one of the examples he showed is a homebuilder in Canada that answers tweets about his hometown. He is very helpful about recommendations and never sells his business. But guess what happens? People want to buy houses from him because he’s so helpful. It’s a really great way to engage.

  • I can’t tell you how often I see this on blogs. I see so many business blogs that are nothing but news releases, either glorified versions of them, or verbatim. Just kick me in the head.

    • jennwhinnem

       @KenMueller Playing the devil’s advocate, Ken – does it somehow work for SEO? Perhaps that’s their only goal, and they don’t care if you want to read it or not. One of the reasons businesses jump into blogging is to have frequently updated content which is attractive to search engines, you already know this, just stating the obvious, etc. Love to hear your thoughts on that.

      •  @jennwhinnem I would say, sure it can help with SEO. But I’d rather see that in a separate “News” section that as your “blog”. Especially if it is company news about who has been hired, promoted, etc. And if it’s not, perhaps you can rewrite it as a blog post, but not put it up as a news release. To me, it’s a turn-off and seems awfully ego-centric.

        •  @KenMueller yes, News Room or Media Room – use ’em!

        • ginidietrich

           @EricaAllison  @KenMueller @jennwhinnem It should never, never go on your blog for any reason. Yes, in a media room. Yes, on the wires. But never on your blog or social networks. And to @John_Trader1 ‘s point, learn how to optimize correctly.

      • John_Trader1

         @jennwhinnem I can see posting it for SEO purposes but the problem is that many companies don’t even know how to do that properly. Keyword optimization, proper use of anchor text, HTML markup, etc. is often weak or non-existent defeating the purposes of posting it. If you are going to muddy up your blog with these types of posts, for Pete’s sake at least get that part right. Otherwise, SEO becomes SENO.
         
        But, my opinion is that the release doesn’t belong on the blog in the first place.

        • jennwhinnem

           @John_Trader1 LOVE this SENO. I laughed!

      •  @jennwhinnem  @KenMueller I think the big SEO benefits come from placing the release on the wire service site, PRWire, etc. The onsite SEO of a release would be secondary in my view.

        •  @adamtoporek  @jennwhinnem I’ve also used PitchEngine with some success. Helps you build a nice external social friendly release that drives traffic.

  • Sure, some “news” is inside baseball…. a new VP of Operations. etc. So, where do you stand if the press release is about the customers? A new product or a new service, for instance. Obviously, there will be a lot of other communication around these issues, but what about the release?

    •  @adamtoporek I’m with you – I think there ARE times that it totally makes sense to put newsworthy information on your blog. But, I think you have to repackage it out of the news release format into something that fits with your blogs tone and voice (see comment above).

    • ginidietrich

       @adamtoporek But why would you put the news release on your blog? A release is targeted toward a specific message. A blog post should be informational and educational. Yes, to @lauraclick ‘s point, you SHOULD talk about it. But you’re going to write different content for the blog post. Just copying and pasting your release is not what a blog is all about.

      •  @ginidietrich  @lauraclick Okay, I’m with you now… and agree. You’ll want to repurpose the content to be more blog friendly — stick the actual release in the “Press Room” section. In thinking about it, you can actually structure it better for SEO that way.

        • ginidietrich

           @adamtoporek  Yes!

  • Well well – I almost agree to the point where don’t disagree. Just kidding, I wanted to show off the most ambiguous response that I’ve ever come up with, pretty good, eh? I do have a question… Is it “acceptable” to posta a link to your(my) blog on my FB timeline if I’m not yet a bigtimer yet?

    • ginidietrich

       @SociallyGenius Yes, of course. But that’s different than posting your news release and expecting people to read it.

  • This reminds me of the requests I get to “Do some social media around something.”

    • jennwhinnem

       @JayDolan Make it go viral, Jay.

      • ginidietrich

         @jennwhinnem  @JayDolan Yes, make it go viral!

        • Facetime61

           @ginidietrich “Make it go viral” has merely replaced the  ‘We need you to get some buzz on this, can you get some buzz on this?  Why isn’t there more BUZZ on this?” Arrgh aack!

  • 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

       @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.

  • 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.

    • ginidietrich

       @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.

  • you said effing???

    • ginidietrich

       @faybiz I did. It’s the closest I get to the actual word.

      •  @ginidietrich my kids love my use of friggin and frick

        • ginidietrich

           @faybiz I also use freaking.

  • 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?!

    • ginidietrich

       @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.

  • 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………….:)

    • ginidietrich

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

  • jennimacdonald

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

    • ginidietrich

       @jennimacdonald And now you may pin the image. 🙂

  • This is one of the most challenging things to explain to someone who doesn’t fully understand social media or blogging. It’s only natural to assume that everyone else cares about company news, but that’s not always the case! Not every tidbit is newsworthy…
     
    I love the image! I may have to pin that! 🙂

    • ginidietrich

       @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 Get the French out… so true, so funny.

  • 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
     
     

    • ginidietrich

       @TheJackB I really love that you get “Dear Mom Blogger.” OY!

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

  • jonbuscall

    Gini Dietrich shoots from the hip! Spot on, Gini. :=)

    • ginidietrich

       @jonbuscall LOL! I’ve never been one to shy away from my opinions, have I?

  • 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.
     

    • ginidietrich

       @NancyD68 Eventually people will get it. Keep fighting the good fight!

  • 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.

    • ginidietrich

       @bradmarley There definitely is a time and place for releases. Mitch Joel always says that the perfect pitch is successful 100% of the time. But the place for it is not your blog.

      •  @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.

        • ginidietrich

           @bradmarley LOL!! I love that you came clean…we’re ALL guilty of doing that.

  • 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

    • ginidietrich

       @HowieSPM You. Kill. Me.

      •  @ginidietrich  @HowieSPM I don’t know….. the cab driver’s release might be pretty interesting. 

        • ginidietrich

           @Lisa Gerber  @HowieSPM ESPECIALLY if it’s chicagocabbie !

  • 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 😮 
     
    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. 

    • ginidietrich

       @margieclayman And I’m going to agree with you. 🙂

      • @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!

  • 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…

    • ginidietrich

       @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.

  • 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. 😉

    • ginidietrich

       @3HatsComm  @lauraclick  @KenMueller  @jennwhinnem  @EricaAllison Yes, I agree they’re all right about the news release in general. My whole point was it doesn’t belong on your blog.

  • 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.

    • ginidietrich

       @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  @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.

        •  @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/

        • ginidietrich

           @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.

        •  @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

           @Frank_Strong  Well, they get a bad rap because they’re not used effectively by most. I’ve been most disenchanted in the past few years, as I’m pitched (blindly) by PR pros just sending me a news release. That never works…even if I’m interested in the product or service. 

        •  @ginidietrich I agree and that’s the point, Gini.  If press releases are nails, the hammer isn’t the reason they are crooked — that responsibility lies with the craft-person. 

      •  @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.

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  • CommProSuzi

    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?

  • CommProSuzi

    (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.

  • CommProSuzi

    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.

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