question-confusionIn conversations with many of my contacts in the media, they express frustration with the meaningless news that crosses the wires and floods their inboxes every day. Why is it that so many companies distribute press releases with little to no value to them? Even in today’s world of social media, the press release remains a viable and important tool to deliver quality news that will generate interest from the media.

Some companies use press releases as a sales tool, some even set quotas for the number of releases a month or quarter in hopes of increasing brand awareness. This is not a good PR strategy. This practice may have started during the dotcom boom, when companies flooded the market with so-called news in an effort to influence venture capitalists and other stakeholders. But these are different times that call for a more strategic approach to PR initiatives.

It may seem basic, but it’s called a press release because it is designed to communicate directly to the press, specifically, relevant, timely, and exciting news. The media doesn’t cover tradeshow participation, every new hire and the smallest update to a product, even though those activities are important to the company and its business objectives. If a company wants to tout a new product capability that is important to a handful of customers but not likely to generate media interest, it is much more effective to develop a marketing program that highlights it directly to those customers.

Here are two simple suggestions for companies who want an effective press release program.

Steady Pipeline: You want to have a steady flow of news that fits the size of your company and the business you are in. This also means, when available, you should space out your news so you do not have lulls that can create speculation.

News Value: Ask yourself what you are announcing and if the media will care. Have you ever read a story on your topic in that publication? Editors are not interested in your tradeshow participation. If you are launching a new product, make sure your announcement is more than just a user interface enhancement and talks about tangible benefits a reporter can wrap a story around.

Remember, just because a company issues a lot of news does not mean the press is paying attention, brand recognition is increasing, or customer confidence is improving. There is a lot of noise out there and press releases need to cut through that clutter and stand out—make it memorable.