We are starting a new series of ‘intros’ on our website, adding to the resources available to help you with your PR.

The first is about press releases – how to write them and issue them. There has been a lot of debate about whether the press release still has value in the digital world. It always used to be THE way of getting your message out there, and it often used to land as a hard copy on an editor’s desk (or roll noisily off the fax!). PR professionals could spend considerable time putting together press packs in laminated folders, and journalists attending briefings or events went away with a stomach-full of coffee and an arm-full of paper.

Are press releases still relevant?

Those days are definitely gone. But the press release continues to have value. Social media channels provide an additional rather than an alternative format for conveying a message. The basic information your press release should include – who, what, why, where and how – still needs to be communicated in sufficient detail for journalists to be able to write the story up or understand enough to contact you for more detail. There are now video-based press releases and agencies that will distribute them for you. They are an option to consider, although you will still need some written words to email in response to requests.

Make social media part of your press release

As our intro suggests, you can make social media part of your press release rather than the other way round. Add a tweet to your release or a ‘news in brief’ paragraph as these will mean journalists can get the story out more quickly and more easily. Think about images and even video – these days phone-quality content is acceptable for many media.

What will always hold true is that you need to understand the media you’re targeting and send them a release that’s interesting and relevant. If you can’t sum up your story in two lines to the colleague next to you then sit down and re-consider what you’ve written before you hit ‘send’.

More intros

More intros will follow over the coming weeks. The former journalists among us have got all misty-eyed now about desk-fulls of post, all those brown envelopes to open! And breakfast briefings with tables of pastries, biscuits and coffee. Time to put the kettle on…!

Visit the Resources section of our website for this and many more guides.