When working in public relations there seems to be a lot of pressure to issue press releases, most of the time press releases are issued on requests from other departments. Things like events, new products, and awards, may all be very important within your organisation, but will the media care?
Here’s where stories come in.
You will never question a good story, you’ll never ask yourself is it newsworthy or will people care.
If the story is great your audience will care, and that’s who you want to engage with. The media will always give a great story the attention, but it’s your audience you want it to resonate with.
Here are five reasons why a story beats a press release every time.
1. A story is direct and to the point
The big problem with press releases are that they are always at least one step back from the action. Their aim is to describe what’s happening, or what will happen, in as detached a manner as possible.
Imagine telling a child a bedtime press release, instead of a bedtime story. All you would be doing is describing something that could be amazing without getting too involved.
The purpose of a press release is to get permission from others to get your story out to the world. You want to create a press release that a news editor, producer, or journalist will shape into a finished story.
You don’t need that permission if you take control and write that story yourself.
2. A story conveys emotion
Branding is about emotional connection – good and bad. Organisations that know how to channel that emotion systematically to customers will succeed. Imagine getting a cold can of Coke on a sweltering hot day. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Ballinasloe or Beijing – the emotional reaction is the same.
A press release could never capture that emotional bond, but a story can and it can shape your brand.
3. A story takes control and defines what’s happening on your own terms
Press releases are the communications tools of choice of the gatekeeper age. But the gatekeeper age is now over. The small device in your pocket is and will continue to define communications. Building your own audience on your own terms is much more powerful than just dealing with traditional journalists.
4. A story is a super tool charged with purpose
The purpose of a story is to inform, entertain, and educate. It’s designed to appeal to the senses of the reader. The purpose of a press release is to inform. I think if that was a football match the story wins 4 to 1 . It’s an easy choice.
5. Writing your own story gives you control
Writing the first version of your own story will always give you control. In a press release you are giving the ingredients to a journalist and telling them to bake the cake. You wait and hope you like the taste of what they produce. If you tell the story yourself you are the pastry chef and can cook up your own delights.
A great story doesn’t require rules, it doesn’t need gatekeepers, it gives you the control.
Next time, try a story, not a press release and see how you get on. Let us know how it goes, we’d love to hear from you!