Press releases are fundamental tools in a PR strategy. Yet before we jump into the goals of a press release, let’s break down how these tools are now used in the modern world of communications.

Once upon a time, distributing a  press release through traditional media channels was one of the only ways to let the public 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 and exposure. Yet despite the accessibility of 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 and/or publish them strategically, they can be a useful tool in an integrated PR campaign, far transcending the simple information conveyance tool for which they have become known.

As your construct a PR strategy, consider these five goals of a press release:

1. Increase media coverage

This is probably the most obvious—at their core, press releases are intended to help increase media coverage.

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.

2. Support search engine visibility

Search engine optimization (SEO) tactics help people find your company online and move up the Google ranks. Press releases distributed via newswires have had evolving roles with SEO over the years.

Newswires are services that compile and distribute news for 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. Additionally, newswire press releases are published on media outlet news feeds, and when using the most credible services, they also earn prominent spots at the top of internet searches.

Newswires sometimes get a bad rap when it comes to SEO because they use “nofollow” links, which means they do not provide any backlinking value to company websites (a primary component of an  SEO strategy). However, the newswire release is far more likely to appear high in search engines—much higher than an announcement on a typical business website. So, the newswire increases the chances people will find your company online through the press release. Once they find your site, they are more likely to act or share content.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

Although press releases are important, they’re only one aspect of a comprehensive PR strategy. The professionals at Aker Ink understand how to write and distribute an effective press release so it gets traction in a crowded digital space. Moreover, we know how a press release integrates into an overarching PR plan. We can help you “get the word out” and find lasting success that goes beyond a single press release.