What is the Purpose of a Press Release?

We’ve already looked at what press releases are (and aren’t). So let’s take the basics to the next level — what is the purpose of a press release?

A decade or two ago, the answer to this question was easy.

The purpose of a press release was to alert journalists about your company’s, or organization’s, news. You wanted them to write a story about you or feature your news on a broadcast.

That’s still the primary purpose of news releases, though there are some important changes:

  1. Journalists are not your only audience.
  2. Press coverage is not the only end game when it comes to distributing press releases.

Let’s take a closer look at how the purpose of a press release has changed in recent years.

Press Release Audiences

Traditional journalists are just one group you might distribute your news to these days. But because of media segmentation and developments in new media, you might also want to reach:

  • Trade publications with a narrow focus on your industry;
  • Local or regional media outlets only (if your company or news is only of local interest);
  • Bloggers and other digital-only media outlets (podcasts, online magazines, and the creators of web video series for example).

The first two of these groups have been around for a long time. But there are more options now thanks to online media.

Bloggers, podcasters, and online video outlets are newer groups you’ll want to target with your news. These outlets often have a niche or industry focus, meaning pitching them is, in some ways, similar to pitching trade publications. But they can be easier to reach.

Due to the open publication schedule of bloggers in particular, you’ll have fewer coverage limitations (as opposed to pitching, say, a print magazine covering the same niche which might have a lead time of several months).

Purposes of Press Releases: The End Game

I mentioned previously that media coverage isn’t the only end game for your news releases anymore. There are at least two others you should be aware of:

  1. Search engine optimization (SEO)
  2. Direct engagement with your publics

We’ll cover SEO press releases more soon. But when it comes to the purpose of distributing press releases, just know that press releases help companies build links from high-authority websites. And those high-value links help the company’s website rank better in Google’s search results. In my next post, we’ll look at how SEO press releases evolved, and what you need to know to use them the right way for better rankings today.

Direct engagement is another reason to put out press releases, though a more minor one.

Decades ago, your company’s “publics” (also known as “stakeholders” — we’ll talk more about these terms in a later post) didn’t generally access your news directly through you. They would hear about big news as it was picked up by their favorite media outlets.

These days things are different. People go online and can visit a company’s website or blog at any time for the latest news. So it’s a good idea to either share your news on your blog or have a press release archive in a media section of your website.

So that’s the purpose of a press release these days — secure media coverage, improve search engine rankings through link building (a result of your media coverage), and direct communication with your company’s stakeholders.

Do you need a press release written for your small business? Get in touch if you’d like to hire a pro to write your next news release for you.

Jennifer Mattern is a freelance business writer, professional blogger, consultant, and publisher.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and more than 20 years' experience in marketing and PR, specializing in digital PR and new media (with significant experience in social media, online marketing, SEO, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience, including web development, mostly in the WordPress environment.

In addition to offering client services, Jenn also developed and runs numerous online publications including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

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