Like many marketing communications and PR professionals, our general take on press releases is they’re DOA. Meaning, once they’re released they really don’t do what they were originally designed to do (get press interested in writing about them). Does that mean you shouldn’t do them? Maybe not. Here are a few ways they’re still worthwhile:
1) Internal Narrative Development: Even if you’re not going to distribute a release externally they can be helpful as a mechanism to develop your announcement narrative. It’s a forcing function to get everyone on the team together to see how you’re planning to merchandise an announcement (and make folks agree upon it before it’s released).
2) Google News and Search Engines: Even some of the lowest cost press release distribution services (PRWeb would be one) get picked up by Google News and search engines. If your announcement isn’t going to get picked up by the media, at least you’re ensuring that folks searching for relevant keywords to your business see it.
3) Partnership Development: Many times you can’t get bigger partners (if you’re working at a startup) to speak with the media about using your product. However, getting them to be included in a short and to the point release can be easier. If you can get press releases included in deals they can go a long way to validating your company and lining up future business leads.
That said, our general advice to startups is that many announcements can be done on their company-owned blog. Hoever, if it’s a bigger announcement with funding, a partner or a big name customer they should still do the press release.
We’ve seen cases where (and this even applied to a Fortune 500 corporation) companies say, “Google just announces everything on their blog, we’re going to do that.” The problem with that is you’re not Google, and even if you’re a Fortune 500 company, you don’t have eyes and feeds monitoring your blog the way reporters do blogs from Google. You need to build your audience if you’re going to use your blog in that way, and balance your use of press releases with it.