The press release is a reliable PR tool that was once one of the only ways to let the world know about important company news. But times have changed for this seemingly ubiquitous communication tool! These days, the digital media landscape offers numerous online platforms companies can use to maximize each press release beyond traditional media outreach. Yet despite these opportunities, many companies still use press releases ineffectively.

In this age of both instant and constant communication, there’s a debate raging about whether press releases are obsolete. We don’t think so—if you create thoughtful, well-researched releases and distribute them to a targeted group of journalists, they can be a useful tool in an integrated communications campaign, far transcending the simple information conveyance tool for which they have become known.

In terms of communication goals, press releases can help:

  1. Increase media outreach

This is probably the most obvious—at their core, press releases are intended to help increase media outreach and, by default, mentions of your company in the media.

Beyond ensuring you cover the who, what, when, where, why and how, it’s becoming increasingly important to be strategic about the information you share via a press release—do your research on the media outlets you would like to target and ensure the information in your release fits with their areas of coverage.

  1. Augment SEO and content marketing

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is much more than a buzz word. It’s a vital component of helping your brand appear in a prominent position in search engine results.  If an increase in SEO is your goal, it is important to implement a strategy that includes distributing press releases via newswires.

Newswires are digital services that provide a variety of news from a variety of sources to media outlets and reporters. Reporters can search newswires for information relevant to their areas of coverage and may publish press releases that are relevant to their readers.

Search engines “crawl” newswire sites for relevant content much more often than they do regular websites, so think about writing releases that are attractive to search engines. This means avoiding long paragraphs and using subheads, bullet points and including relevant links to your website and keywords that search engines will pick up.

  1. Remain top of mind with key media contacts

Public relations is deeply rooted in relationships, and your company’s relationship with industry media is integral to the success of your campaign. You want journalists to think of your company as a reliable source for news and information, and to reach out to you for insights when they are writing stories.

Press releases are a great way to keep key journalists in the know about the latest news from your company or your people. Sometimes they will write a story based on your press release, and other times they will file it away. In either instance, you provide a reporter with newsworthy information that puts your company in the front of his or her mind.

It is important to note, however, that you should do your research so you are targeting the right journalists. Bombarding them with information that is not relevant to their beats or areas of focus will likely not result in coverage and may in fact dissuade a reporter from contacting you when they are looking for sources.

  1. Reinforce campaign messaging

An integrated campaign often has multiple touch points, such as social media, email marketing, media outreach and a website. A press release can reinforce the messaging across these touch points and, in some cases, it will drive readers to these locations, so it is imperative that the information presented is consistent.

  1. Improve brand awareness

Press releases allow you to use strategic messaging to position your brand in a positive light to journalists, who will relay that positive message to your target audience in the form of a story.

While you will never be able to fully control every aspect of media outreach, a press release gives you the opportunity to create an initial platform that reporters’ stories can build upon. In this way, you can use press releases to help increase the public’s perception and awareness of your company.

Despite reports of their declining value, press releases are here to stay. Although they have evolved into a much more complex and dynamic tool from their humble origins, it’s important not to overlook their tried-and-true benefits. Strategic, well-written press releases can pay dividends in media coverage and beyond, significantly contributing to a campaign’s overarching goals and success.