Smashing The Myth Of The Press Release
A musician spends years honing his craft. He writes world-class
songs and performs them in a manner that moves his listeners to
tears. He records a demo tape and sends it to record labels. He
gets a contract and becomes rich, famous and adored.
The lesson: demo tapes are the secret of becoming a famous
musician. Wait, you say, the demo tape was just a tool, just his way of
conveying his talent. It's his ability as a musician that got
him the contract and made him famous.
You're right, of course. He could have become just as famous if
a record executive saw him in person, or heard about him from a
friend, or as a result of a variety of other events.
Which brings us to the press release.
Somehow, the press release has taken on a magical reputation as
the alpha and omega of publicity. Wanna become rich? Send out a
press release. Wanna become famous? Press release. Wanna get
on the cover of Newsweek? Press release.
Publicity "gurus" are springing up all over the Internet touting
the press release as the answer to all marketing ills. Just
knock out a release, mass e-mail it to journalists, sit back and
wait for Oprah to call.
It's a cruel joke.
Here's the reality: the press release is no more important to
your potential of scoring free publicity than the demo tape was
to our musician friend. If he had no talent, if his songs
sounded like garbage, the best recorded demo tape in the world
wouldn't get him signed. Ditto for the publicity seeker. If you
don't have a story to tell, your press release is utterly
I'm not knocking the press release -- it's an important tool. But
it's just that: a tool. It's not the first thing you need to
think about when it comes time to seek publicity. In fact, it's
one of the last. And it's not even absolutely necessary (I've
gotten plenty of publicity with just a pitch letter, a quick e-
mail or a phone call).
If you worship at the shrine of the press release, it's time to
rearrange your priorities. Here, then, are the things that are
MORE important than a press release in generating publicity:
1. A newsworthy story. This is the equivalent of our musician's
talent. It's the very basis for your publicity efforts. Without
it, your press release means nothing.
2. Learning to think like an editor. Oh, what an edge you'll
have in scoring publicity over all those press release
worshippers once you learn how to get inside the head of an
editor. Give an editor what he wants in the way he wants it and
you'll do great.
3. Relevance. Tie in with a news event, make yourself part of a
trend, piggyback on a larger competitor's story, but, by all
means, make your story part of a picture that's bigger than just
your company. Stories that exist in a vacuum quickly run out of
4. Persistence. Sending out a press release and waiting for
results is lazy and ineffective. If you really believe in your
story, and you believe that it's right for a particular media
outlet, you need to fight to make it happen. Call or e-mail the
editor to pitch your story BEFORE sending the release. If one
editor says no, try somebody else. If they all say no, come back
at them with a different story angle.
Getting publicity involves so much more than just sending out a
press release. Treat it as seriously and with as much respect as
our newly minted rock star treats his craft and you'll be well on
your way to success.
Reprinted with permission from “The Publicity Insider.” For more information and to contact the author, click on the author’s name at the top of the page.