Your company -- or client -- has some news and it's ready to let the world know. Maybe it's a new product or service launch, or new and exciting features have been added to an existing offering. Or perhaps it's a new partnership. Or acquisition. Or corporate leadership has changed. A #1 ranking by a prestigious rating organization. Let's stop here -- you get the picture.
All of the above is great...potentially. Every company wants to share its good news. But before you pull up your company press release template and media list, there are some important considerations to weigh.
You Think You Have News. But, Do You?
The fact that you have "news" is table stakes. Just as with poker, you have to think strategically and determine if you have a hand you want to play. Here are some reasons to draft a press release and make an announcement to the media (among other outreach activities):
Adds value in some way to your target audience and the media members you plan to contact
Launches a product or service or new benefits for customers
Establishes a competitive advantage, which could include: demonstrating growth, third party praise, cost structure, distribution network and reach, strategic partners, prominent funders, etc.
Shares findings from research or analysis that demonstrates expertise and industry leadership
Makes it searchable/for the record
Supports new customers/partners
Aids marketing efforts
Fulfills public company requirement
Incremental vs. Notable
Not all announcements are created equal. With oversight of PR and communications, it is important to determine the clear purpose for an intended announcement and size up the opportunity. Is it possible to receive positive attention and good feedback from customers, investors, partners, and employees? Is there any potential drawback?
Manage expectations. Is your announcement truly newsworthy? Or, is it useful information to share with select stakeholder audiences? It is essential to be candid with management and the individuals who requested the announcement about its potential for audience reaction and viability with the press. If you're not, it will be on your shoulders when there is no news coverage.
Let's Get Real
I would be remiss not to mention the current media environment's "fake news" issue, as it goes well beyond elections and politics and has profound implications for PR and communications professionals. Announcing bad, erroneous or unsubstantiated information has serious consequences. This includes losing the trust of business partners, investors, customers, and employees.
If your announcement is intended to bolster your reputation and visibility, I would not advise offering up unsubstantiated or potentially short-lived information, as the above-mentioned consequences of doing so could greatly outweigh any benefits. Reach out when you've got something to announce, but be careful of overreaching.
What Goes Into a Meaningful Announcement?
OK, you've got news that you've vetted for worthiness and feel confident that it's newsworthy. That's great, but you're not done yet. Now you need to make it meaningful to your audience. Think hard about answering the question: "Is there something useful in it for the reader?" By framing your news through this lens you will help the reader quickly understand why it is important and why they should care about it.
Here are some questions to draw out the key elements to a meaningful announcement:
What is happening in the marketplace?
What is happening in the industry?
What is happening in your customers' lives?
What is happening around the availability, sourcing and access to materials for manufacturing?
What new technology, analytics or expertise was used? And how does it make the information meaningful or useful?
Just as it's important to announce news that is positive and important, it's equally important to not overstate news.
Promoting Your Announcement beyond a Press Release
It used to be that announcements were simply a case of filling in your corporate press release template and firing it off to one of the leading newswire companies. No more.
Relying solely on a press release is a strategy of the past. Audiences are more segmented and scattered -- one medium is not enough. While you should still leverage press releases for announcements, there are other effective mediums to use. In particular, social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc., are critical to any announcement's success. Your website, along with a company blog and/or "News" page, should be leveraged as well.
In general, you need to be more aware than ever where your audience is most likely to see and hear your announcement. So while you should still target earned media in mainstream outlets, you also need to seek out your readers on social media. For example, B2B organizations do better making announcements on LinkedIn and Twitter, while B2Cs are better served focusing on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest. The mediums that promote the announcement are just as important as the announcement itself.
Announcements Done Well
Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant displayed its new integrations at CES 2017 and garnered widespread praise as the most advanced Internet of Things platform over similar offerings from Apple and Google
Tesla's Model 3 announcement - 325k preorders representing $14B in implied future sale
Starbucks adds new board members - creating one of the most diverse corporate boards in US
Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications, Inc. helps companies build reputations and differentiate in a competitive market through thought leadership, public education, issues management, content strategy, and strategic communications. To find out how ICCC can help you and your company build your reputation contact firstname.lastname@example.org, call 212-399-0026 or visit www.ivycohen.com.