21 March 2024

Are press releases worth the effort any more?

Cervin Partner and Head of Platform, Scott Brown, answers the question, "Are press releases worth it any more?"

Working with early-stage startups, we often work with technical founders who need more go-to-market effort experiences. Since our first marketing engagement with a company is often helping them with their fundraising announcement, I’m often asked if issuing a press release is necessary or even relevant in today’s media environment.

My answer is: press releases are absolutely still relevant and valuable in many corporate marketing situations. (And that’s not just because I started my career on the PR side.)

Here are some benefits companies can expect from memorializing your news in a press release and putting it on the wire…

… but before I remind you why releases are valuable, let’s be clear: NOT everything DESERVES a press release. While not as prevalent anymore, some companies  still subscribe to the notion that they must issue a release for every customer win, product announcement, or quarterly business “momentum” update.


Even though the costs of distributing a release are dramatically lower than what they used to be, you need to assess the ROI from the time and effort it will take to write, approve and distribute a release. (And let’s face it: if you’re only issuing a release and NOT aligning it with other sales and marketing investments, your news probably isn’t worth putting on the wire.) Remember, a press release is a means to an end, not the destination many think it is.

So, why do I think issuing a release is still worth the effort?


1. Increased visibility and reach: A well-written press release can help attract more media attention and reprints. Very few (quality) media outlets will directly leverage your release, but it may help catch the attention of reporters and outlets you may have missed. (Besides, you should be using the release as part of your pitch for an exclusive or embargoed news PRIOR to the release going out.)


2. Helps with internal alignment: The media will only write about your news if you have a good, tight, compelling story. Distilling your news down to the press release format can be amazingly helpful in focusing and aligning your executive team. Even securing proof points for a high-quality release, such as customer/partner quotes or product performance stats, can help you assess whether your news will interest people outside your company. Third-party endorsements gathered from press releases can be leveraged in award submissions.


3. Memorializes the moment for the public record: press releases issued on the wire are considered part of the company’s public record. Sometimes you’re required to do this, for example in the case of public-company earnings, company acquisitions or other private transactions. Private companies can also benefit from memorializing a moment-in-time as a funding round, major product release or the appointment of a senior executive. Also if you’re on the path to IPO, establishing a regular cadence of releases can help you establish a “normal course of business” that could allow you to continue conducting similar marketing activities throughout your quiet period.


4. Delivers SEO (search engine optimization) value: Press releases with keywords and backlinks can help increase your website’s visibility and domain authority for your company/sector/critical words. This isn’t a primary value driver, so avoid issuing a release to drive SEO value.  At the same time, when you develop a release, ensure the version you put on the wire links to your website, key product landing pages you mention, and executive profile pages.  These links help reporters find more information and identify what you think is important for the search engines.


5. Creates another marketing asset: in addition to being the vehicle for your messaging, your press release can be another asset used to engage your customers, investors, partners, etc. in other channels such as email marketing or sales outreach. Remember that in a press release, you control the narrative, which means reusing this artifact delivers your message directly to people the way you wanted it to be seen.

Cervin fund 5
An example of a press release announcing the close of Cervin' s 5th flagship fund.


6. Press releases are still relevant, but they are not silver bullets. Before putting something on the wire, make sure your release is part of a broader go-to-market strategy in which you reuse and recycle those messages across multiple channels to help make sure it has the reach and impact you’re hoping for.


For more insight into effectively using a press release to announce your funding, read this post about making the most of your fundraising moment.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Press Releases:

How do you measure the success of a press release?
Measuring a press release's success and impact involves direct and indirect metrics. Key performance indicators can be direct measures, such as media pickups or media briefings secured or indirect such as traffic spikes on your website following the release distribution. Moreover, tracking engagement metrics such as social media shares and mentions can offer a view into the press release's resonance with your target audience. Of course, downstream monitoring of leads or inquiries post-release can help tie the effort back to business outcomes.

What is the right distribution channel for a release? 
You can use several newswires to distribute your release – or even self-publish it via a channel like your corporate blog.  Newswires like PRWeb or PRNewswire charge a fee to issue a release but have the added benefits of being able to target your distribution to reporters you think might be interested in the topic, having your release picked up by regional or local content syndication services, and serving as a system of public record for corporate news.  If you distribute your news on a wire, you should also repackage the news and messages on your company’s social media accounts, corporate blog, etc. to amplify the news and extend its reach.  

How do press releases fit into a broader marketing strategy?
Integrating press releases into a broader marketing strategy requires coordination and timing. In many ways, press releases summarize key messages and your corporate narrative and should therefore complement your ongoing marketing activities. For example, aligning the timing and messages of a release with a social media campaign, email marketing and sales outreach can reinforce the narrative directly – or reach new audiences that may have missed your release. By treating the press release as a pivotal part of the marketing mix, you can better leverage its potential in helping you reach your marketing objectives.