How much should I pay for a press release?
We often get asked to quote a price for a one off press release. It goes like this: “No, I don’t want a pitch or a campaign; I just want a price for writing and sending out a press release.” My inner sceptic immediately wants to ask: “Why?” This generally goes down quite badly (we are in the press release business, after all…aren’t we?) and usually prompts a repetition of the request.
And yet this is the question that needs asking. Sending out a one off press release, unless it’s to announce the impeachment of the Donald, is usually a pointless exercise with disproportionate expectations of a positive outcome. The client concludes “PR doesn’t work” and gives up on the whole idea.
The problem is that PR does not operate in a vacuum. A press release from a company the media have never heard of about a subject they are not currently focused on is unlikely to have much impact. A more sensible approach would be to focus on one or two really key publications and target a one to one story pitch, based on some intelligence.
A little intelligence goes a long way
What do I mean by intelligence? Let’s start by being honest and asking ourselves; is this news? It may be good news to us but is it really something you’d be interested in if you didn’t work for the company? Second: is it believable? Do you have the facts and the evidence to support your claim to be the ‘industry’s most disruptive player?’ Have you got multiple sources of evidence (not just the claims of your sales manager?) Is it controversial, truly ground-breaking or is going to elicit a “so what” response? Next: is it relevant to your market and to your target media? You may indeed have just been accepted as a member of the local chamber of commerce but will The FT, Computing or Computer Business Review find that irresistible as a piece of breaking news? Do the media you are targeting run this sort of news? Have a read of the media and you will find that not everyone does appointment stories, so sending a press release on your new CTO will not make the cut.
The real answer
And that’s really the answer to the question posed in the title. If you read the media, study what sorts of stories they run you may find that a press release is not the most appropriate way to get coverage. Find out what sort of stories they run and craft your pitch. This could be a comment on a current news event in your sector, an offer of a case study (always a good bet) or an article by one of your internal experts on a subject the publication has shown that it is focused on. You won’t get results overnight and you will have to invest time in building relationships with journalists, gathering content and evidence ideas and lots of speculative pitching. PR firms that specialise in your sector will have strong media relationships in place and a keen understanding of the difference between news and noise. If you don’t have the resources in house to put in the ground work, talk to someone who does and don’t ask them how much it would cost to send out a press release. You will get the same answer from them as you would from us: “It depends.”