By Nancy Marshall, The PR Maven® 

Is the Press Release Dead? You Might Be Surprised at the Answer

There are many uses for a press release beyond simply sending it to a reporter. For one, it’s also an important part of your historical record.

PR is always evolving, so does that mean the press release is dead? Or are we just doing them wrong?

Jody Fisher, host of The PR Podcast and vice president of Public Relations at digital marketing agency Austin Williams, shared his top tips from over 25 years in PR — including some perspectives that you may find surprising.

He insists that the press release is alive and kicking and that it has many more uses than simply communicating a message to a journalist.

You’ve got to think like a reporter, Jody says, and look for the news story. And he should know, Jody started his career path as a New York City radio reporter.

“I’ve said this repeatedly — and I sometimes get into interesting conversations about this concept — but I have just as much interest in helping the reporter as I do my client,” he says.

On episode 208 of The PR Maven® podcast, I spoke with Jody about key strategies in PR today and why it’s wrong to think the press release is dead. He shares simple but powerful tips on how to write a successful press release, how to prepare a client for a great interview and how to repurpose press releases.

Is the Press Release Dead? You Might Be Surprised at the AnswerThink like a reporter

Pitching the media is one of the most valuable aspects of PR. But before you get started, you need to change the way you think.

Good PR professionals want to help the reporter just as much as they want to help their clients. You should aim to become a reporter’s trusted resource.

“There’s this horrible perception about PR people,” says Jody, “that we are somehow disingenuous or not completely honest, and it boils down to that four-letter word … ‘spin’. Good PR people don’t spin because we don’t have to — because we’ve got good stories. I always say that PR people have just as much interest in helping the reporter as we do our client.”

Have a good sense of what’s newsworthy

Everything belongs somewhere, but not everything is newsworthy, Jody reminds us. Some topics are more appropriate for social media, for example. If you’re going to pitch a story to a reporter, it must be newsworthy.

Pitching a great story is all about being a storyteller. Identify the particular nuggets of information that will hook the reporter.

Remember that when you’re pitching to a reporter, you’re speaking through them to their audience. When you identify national and international trends, be sure to translate them to the local level, so that the reporter’s unique audience will be able to relate to the story.

Take advantage of your knowledge and relationships

PR professionals often have years of experience and extensive networks. This is a key asset. You’re not just pitching to news reporters. Think beyond the news desk about what stories will be appealing to photographers, videographers — and even the local meteorologist.

Some stories might tie in with the weather. For example, back when I worked in the ski industry we would send videos down to the Weather Channel. Sometimes in Fall, the beautiful foliage would be out, and then it would start snowing. I’d send in photos of the fall color with the white snow-covered ski runs in the background.

Think about what makes each client unique, and what they have to offer to the various types of media professionals in your network. Identify opportunities to make unusual and interesting connections and reach out to them with your ideas. This might even lead into an interview opportunity for your client.

Prepare your client for a great interview

Media prep is essential to ensure your client’s message comes across clearly. Walk them through how the interview will go so they’re confident in articulating their message. When it comes to helping clients prepare for an interview, Jody says to think of it as a cheerleading session: He helps clients find the confidence in themselves to articulate their message in the right way.

Make sure clients know what to include (and exclude) from the interview

“The reporter doesn’t know what you don’t say,” Jody says. This means that if you need to hold something back, you can do that. The journalist won’t know about the information that you withhold.

The important thing to remember is that if you don’t speak your key message, the reporter won’t know that, either. You’ve got to be sure to tell the journalist about your key messages and concepts.

Tell your key messages over and over again — even when it feels

Your primary message isn’t boring to an audience who’s never heard it before. In fact, Jody says that you’ve got to make yourself sound like an echo chamber.

When it starts to sound boring to you, that’s when it’s probably starting to make an impact on the audience.

Get more mileage out of your press releases

Press releases have many uses beyond communicating a story to reporters — some of which may be unexpected. For example, they’re a terrific exercise in helping to align your language with your key messages.

Remember that press releases can be repurposed in many ways. They can be put on the client’s news section of their website, they can be reworked and used as social media posts or even reformatted as a company e-newsletter.

Think of a press release living on a client’s website as a historical record

In essence, PR is a way for you to write your own history. When someone googles you, they’ll see your news coverage. Each press release, when published on your client’s website, contributes to an ongoing log of newsworthy events and information about their history.

You can even take your press release and turn it into an opinion piece for an industry publication. Go beyond the actual news event and add your client’s opinions and perspectives to it. It’s a simple repurposing strategy that not only creates a second use for your press release, but also positions your client as a thought leader in their field.

The press release is neither dead nor dying

It’s a key strategy in PR today, and its uses go beyond simply communicating your client’s message to a journalist. Remember to think like a reporter, prep your client for media interviews so their key message comes across clearly and repurpose your press release so that it forms a part of your client’s historical record.

You’ll soon understand how powerful your press releases can be — when done the right way.

This is based on episode 208 of The PR Maven® Podcast, a podcast hosted by Nancy Marshall. Weekly interviews feature industry leaders, top executives, media personalities and online influencers to give listeners a peek into the world of public relations, marketing and personal branding. Subscribe through Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.


Connect with Jody:



Twitter: @jodyfisher