As the digital age continues to surpass our wildest dreams, shuttling information across the globe in lightning time, the question seems to come up again and again: is print media still alive?
And when it comes to press releases, is online media really better than old-fashioned print?
As a copywriter, I’m a fan of all media that gives me a creative opportunity. Press releases are a different beast, though, and it’s important to know how to use them effectively.
In the first two installations of the Press Release Series, I discussed the press release itself and the steps to effective distribution. For this third and final installment, I once again turned to industry experts Steven Spenser, principal of Praxis Communications and Carla Mata-Sprinkles, principal of Creative Communication Services to discuss the two mediums.
Do people still look for distribution via print?
Carla: “Absolutely! Our clients are mainly small to medium sized companies. Trade magazines, local newspapers and local publications are how they monitor our success.”
Steven: “Press releases are still useful and effective for trade pubs, professional journals and other niche media, whether online or not. Many trade publications still have large professional audiences and they are often quite low-hanging fruit that are easy to get into. Very often, the smaller the outlet, the greater the chance of your release being used, whether in part, in its entirety or merely summarized.”
What are the benefits to distributing via print?
Carla: “A lot of shoppers, buyers, PEOPLE, are still somewhat traditionalists in their means of obtaining news, in how they buy, simply how they receive information. You have a generation that simply wouldn’t think of receiving their news via print, but you have many, many whose lifestyle is 50/50 (50% online/50% traditional media) and many who still wholly enjoy the tangible means of print.”
Do you have suggestions for online distributors?
Steven: “PR Newswire; BusinessWire; Marketwire; PRWeb, eReleases, Realwire.com. They all provide pretty much the same sort of services, especially now that everyone offers SEO. PRWeb is a service of Vocus, which is one of the top two media-database services used in the PR industry, and eReleases is affiliated with PR Newswire.
Sites purporting to distribute press releases for free have proliferated on the Web in recent years. So many exist that comparing their efficacy is problematic–especially given that few disclose the depth or breadth of their supposed media contacts. The most reputable of the lot, IMO, is PitchEngine.com. Many offer additional, “premium” levels of service (such as tracking/analytics, SEO and/or hosted online press rooms) for extra fees. Beware any site or service that doesn’t include an About Us link, telephone contact info, or identify the names of its executives/owners.”
What are the benefits of online distribution?
Steven: “Primarily that your news will get picked up by Google and other search engines. But press releases are an essential tactic in getting online coverage elsewhere, since many online sources hungry for content will run a press release verbatim, or at least link to it, after finding it on PR Newswire and other wire services. Getting your story published anywhere online might also mean greater exposure from others who find it and link to it, recommend it at social-news sites such as Mashable, or e-mail the link to their acquaintances.”
So…print vs. online? Is one better than the other?
Steven: “An organization, company or individual who wants to reach particular target audiences would be foolish not to use traditional media in addition to online distribution. Not every audience segment uses the Internet, and many social networks, for instance (Facebook, LinkedIn) are used more by older people than younger.
The older the targeted audience, the more likely it is to still use print media for news and information. Thus, reinforcing your messaging with traditional media still popular with certain age groups, such as newspaper placements (as well as TV and radio), is an excellent way to build brand exposure.”
So if you want to reach your total target audience, it’s time to stop thinking about print and online mediums as enemies. In fact, they compliment and support each other – there’s no need to choose. Once your copywriter creates your top-notch press release, make sure you double your potential publicity opportunities by utilizing print and online distribution.