Thanksgiving & PR

As my fall break begins and Turkey Day approaches, I’ve been wondering what Thanksgiving and PR have in common. Food? Family? “Thanksgiving Lessons for PR Pros” by Jenn Riggle of The Buzz Bin says that those things, and a few more, tie this turkey-loving holiday and the world of PR together. This is what Riggle writes:

Normal Rockwell's famous painting, "Freedom of Want"

Thanksgiving is a time when we overindulge, heaping our plates with turkey and mashed potatoes, not to mention pumpkin pie. And while the food may be wonderful, you can sometimes have too much of a good thing.

The same is true with press releases. While press releases are a great way to share your news with the media, you can overdo it.

Here are some PR lessons learned from Thanksgiving dinner:

You can go to the buffet table too many times: If you’re issuing press releases more than twice a month or you’re issuing a lot of “market releases” to generate buzz, you can damage your organization’s credibility. Reporters may start to view your releases as marketing or spam. This is especially true if you’re reaching out to a limited number of trade reporters who cover your industry.

Don’t forget your veggies: With so many tasty things to eat, you can sometimes forget the basics. By the same token, it’s important to remember that press releases are actually “news releases.” The goal of a news release is to share news and information with the media and the general public. So remember that you should issue news releases when you have something newsworthy to say, such as announcing:

  • New products or services
  • Executive appointments
  • Major sales (group into one momentum release)
  • Awards
  • Research findings
  • Events such as a TweetChat, Twitter Party or Webinar

It’s all about relationships: The holidays are about spending time with family. Press releases also are a great way to develop your relationships – with reporters and editors. There is a marketing rule that you need to reach out to people three times in order to make an impression. That’s why we talk about using a “rolling thunder” strategy and issuing press releases on a regular basis. Not only does this help keep your organization top-of-mind, but it you can use these releases as a way to develop relationships with key reporters.

After cooking all day, someone needs to clean up: The work isn’t done once the dinner is cooked. Someone needs to go back and clean all the dishes. The same is true when issuing a press release. It’s not enough to just issue a press release on the newswire. You need to reach out to reporters. Don’t call them to follow-up on a press release. Instead, follow-up on a story angle and ask them what types of stories they’re working on and whether they’re interested in this type of story.

Try it, you’ll like it: I read a great post from Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases, which explained that sometimes it’s better to forego issuing a press release and find another way to share your information. Consider the following:

  • Developing a bylined article – If your goal is to generate news coverage, there’s really not a better way to do this than writing the news story yourself. This not only lets you frame the news, but it also helps to establish your executives as thought leaders.
  • Writing a white paper or case study – Like a bylined article, this is a great way to tell your own story, but doesn’t require having to sell it to a reporter. These types of documents can be posted on your website and used as a sales tool. What’s not to like?
  • Turning it into a blog post – Blogs are social media’s answer to the OpEd. Granted, it might need a little tweaking to be more conversational in tone, but you can either post it on your website or pitch it to a more established blog. Then you can post links or excerpts via Twitter and Facebook.
  • Turning the release into a video – A picture is worth a thousand words. Consider whether you might be able to shoot a short video that brings your story to life. It’s a great way to have people put executive names with faces. Again, you can post this on YouTube and your website and post links via Twitter and Facebook.
  • Pitching an exclusive story – Reporters love an exclusive. So instead of issuing a press release, consider developing a targeted media pitch and offering it to one of your key reporters. Not only does this offer the potential for a high-visibility placement, but it offers you another opportunity to offer greater value and hone relationships with key media contacts.
  • Developing an OpEd or Letter to the Editor – These can provide another way to generate coverage in one of your target media. However, these can’t be “overly promotional” and need to be clearly linked to a news angle.

After all of the Christmas parties and family feasts, we’re all going to be counting calories after the holidays. When planning for 2011, you may want to consider putting your release schedule on a diet as well. You’ll thank yourself later.”

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