We recently came across a LinkedIn post by a respected PR thought leader discussing the role of press releases in a communication strategy. His statement that “Issuing four or more press releases per month is not a strategy” resonated with us, and in most cases, we would agree.
Throughout our years in PR, we’ve encountered clients who believed that if each press release generated some amount of coverage, you could get multiples of that coverage by issuing more press releases. We’ve had to help them understand that “more press releases” doesn’t necessarily equal more press coverage. In fact, it can be counter productive. Reporters are likely to feel overwhelmed by underwhelming announcements — and then will stop paying attention. (On the other side, we’ve also encountered clients who are so cautious that they don’t issue a press release even when there’s significant news. The problem: visitors to their websites will see few recent releases, and that may lead them to wonder if the organization is still active. We might delve deeper into this topic in a future blog post.)
Let’s be clear, we do agree with the LinkedIn post: Focusing on press releases is not a great strategy.
That said, we represent a large nonprofit health care client that routinely issues more than four press releases each month. For them, we believe this approach makes sense for them.
This healthcare organization possesses a robust research arm, consistently producing numerous research papers monthly. While we don’t issue a press release for every single study, we do employ specific criteria to discern which studies merit such attention. Some months, this results in issuing more than four releases announcing published studies appearing in prestigious journals. In this case, more news about different research studies doesn’t dilute science reporters’ interest in the research division — quite the opposite. If anything, the frequency of innovative studies may raise awareness for their research among science reporters.
Beyond research-related press releases, we undertake other types of press releases for this client. While these serve a strategic purpose, they often differ in their objectives, with media coverage not always the primary goal.
Over all, we agree that frequent press releases should not be the foundation of a communication for most clients. We represented a large publicly held client for whom we recommended they reduce the number of their releases, suggesting that they combine related releases when possible. (Please note: we know that not always possible, particularly when partnering companies are involved.)
However, our experience with a healthcare client demonstrates that issuing absolutes, whether about the number of press releases per month or anything else in a PR strategy, is problematic. A one-size press release strategy does not fit all clients.
What agencies and their in-house clients must do is approach the client’s communications strategy with a nuanced and adaptable approach, keeping in mind what may work one year may not work next year so it’s important to be open to new approaches.