The press release industrial complex is one hell of a system. Public relations agencies, newswires, distribution services and media companies make hundreds of millions of dollars off of it, while the hopeful brands and entrepreneurs cross their fingers and wait for some website to care about their new piece of of crap product. Many critics say press releases are just spam. Lazy marketing. The last vestige of an ancient system that desperate companies use to try to stay relevant. It’s no better than throwing digital spaghetti against the wall.
LAUNCH MODE -- Acting in a way that earns you the privilege of making an announcement about your work
In a world where storytelling isn’t everything, it’s the only thing, writing press releases trains you to ask one very important question. Is our team making things worth launching? And if not, then what could our team make that would give us an excuse to send out a press release? Sure, nobody is going to read the damn thing, but that’s not the point. What matters is getting into the mindset that earns you the privilege of making an announcement about your work in the first place. If your company hasn’t done anything in the past year worth bragging about, that’s not a good sign. The optics of that news, or lack thereof, indicates the brand is not thriving, growing, maturing and innovating. Here's a mantra for you. Keep doing things worth writing about, keep writing things worth talking about. And not because you actually expect people to talk about your work, but because aiming for that level of quality makes you a better artist. It inspires you to take creative risks. And so, this argument about the press release industrial complex is a moot point. Maybe it is a corrupt, unfair, pointless system. But we can still choose to procure meaning from being in launch mode, regardless of the outcome.
My old boss use to joke that the odds of a top tier news source picking up your story are lower than getting struck by lightning while being eaten by a shark. Gotta love those odds. In my career, I have written, published and promoted dozens of press releases for a variety of products and services, both as an entrepreneur and also as an employee. None them went viral, most were ignored, and only a handful of them garnered modest media coverage. But every one of them was time and money well spent. Partly because the process of writing a press release is a useful exercise in how to communicate directly, clearly and compelling about your value on a single page.
In any business, there are four words every customer need to think. That was worth it. This is the primary objective of enterprise, to create value your buyer’s eyes. Whatever it is that you do, it needs to be worth noticing, worth crossing the street for, worth standing in line for, worth taking a picture of, worth paying extra for, worth showing off, worth sharing with others, worth being tired for, worth getting yelled at for, worth being sore for, worth sitting through traffic for and worth coming back for, to name a few. Get your crew into launch mode. Once you put yourself in the position to write a press release about that, you’ve already won. No matter how many people read it. Have you done anything in the last six months that gives you excuse to send out a press release?
Consistently do things worth writing about
Position your company as thriving, growing, maturing and innovating.
Build brand equity and credibility through the social proof of media exposure
Improve your ability to communicate directly, clearly and compellingly about your value