Press releases: manipulative media or effective information dissemination?

Press Releases: Free advertising or media manipulation?Can the humble press release combat audience cynicism with advertising?

Audiences are becoming increasingly cynical about advertising.

And it’s no wonder. Everywhere we look advertising, very little of which is unique or clever, bombards us. The local newspaper, which was once a haven for small business, no longer delivers the results it once did.

Why? Audiences are changing.

Ignoring the issue of technology completely (an entirely separate discussion!), it’s clear to see that readers are becoming highly informed of what is going on around them and look beyond glossy advertisements to other sources of referrals. They want more than just a plumber or an accountant – they want to develop relationships with proven, reliable and credible businesses.

That’s not to say that advertising doesn’t have its place. It does – brand awareness and reinforcement, ensuring you remain front-of-mind, and communication of special offers will always be beneficial if you leverage your advertising well. But consumers now take advertisements with a grain of salt; how, then, do you develop your business profile in those mediums?

Press exposure can engage potential clients

While some argue that the humble press release is irrelevant and a form of spam, it may be their media strategy that is lacking. Like any form of communication that is irrelevant, press releases can be spam if they are generic and directed to the wrong audience.

If a press release conveys information that is:

  • of interest or benefit to the reader or community
  • targeted correctly, and
  • well-written,

it can provide a stepping stone to positioning your business as an industry leader. A consistent press release strategy will build on this over time, gradually developing a brand reputation that cannot be achieved via advertising alone.

Evidence: Free media exposure delivers long-term financial profit

I did this very successfully with a small mechanical workshop that had absolutely no media exposure at all. As part of an overarching media strategy, press releases that were newsworthy and relevant were used to communicate and engage with the local media. Within 12 months we had positioned the workshop in the local business and residential community as an undisputed leader in the automotive industry and the leading provider of mechanical services in the local government area. The workshop saw financial benefits and grew in size, and continues to maintain a high profile. The exposure not only generated a significant number of new clients, but also led to interviews on A Current Affair and articles in the Sydney Morning Herald, as well as referrals from NSW Fair Trading.

Press releases are free advertising

Yep, press releases are free.

All it takes is a bit of your time, or an investment in a business copywriter to provide you with a unique angle and develop the content to suit both print and electronic publishing requirements.

Best of all, you need to have something worthwhile to say, so an effective media strategy ties in with, and reinforces, your business planning. It’s but one component of the master plan – after all, you can’t create a newsworthy future by repeating the past!

As a business owner or consumer, what are your thoughts on press releases – manipulative media or a method of information communication?  Share your thoughts!


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Melinda Leyshon is a business copywriter with over 15 years experience in corporate publishing and strategy development. She has worked with some of Sydney's leading brands to deliver SEO and direct response copywriting, brand development and more. She has a huge success rate with business award applications and, throwing small business and corporate tenders into the mix, you have one of Australia's most experienced business copywriters! She also loves triathlon and has a serious penchant for licorice. And chocolate. Together.