Before I start discussing the alternatives to a press release, let me start by clarifying something. Contrary to what some might say, the press release is definitely not dead. The effectiveness of poorly-written ones flatlined years ago, but a well-written press release with a strong hook is still a great medium for your message in 2020.
Or to paraphrase Mr Twain:
The reports of the death of the press release are greatly exaggerated
So if you want to learn how to write a press release and how to pitch it successfully, read our startup press release toolkit. Or if you want to submit it to a distribution service, here’s our pick of the best press release submission sites.
But press releases shouldn’t always be your automatic PR go-to every time you want to tell the world about something. There are alternatives to the press release that could be more effective for your announcement.
Here are 5 great press release alternatives which can generate brilliant PR in certain situations.
Send some merchandise
You want to get the attention of the press, bloggers and influencers? Who doesn’t!
You like receiving packages in the mail? Who doesn’t!
Can you see where I’m going with this…?
Get creative with some merchandise, send this out to your prospects, and tie this into your announcement. It’s best to aim for something that people will naturally keep on their desk for a while.
This is a great option if you’re trying to build your brand recognition with the media and influencers.
Create a product video
It can sometimes be hard to bring a product or service to life on a page of A4. When I first read about Tinder I thought it was just a gimmicky version of existing dating sites. I soon ate my words when I saw the UI in action.
So if you’re announcing something that’s really visual, a video could be a better medium instead of a normal written press release.
For instance, if your new app has an absolutely killer UI that leaves your competitors in the dust, make a 2-3 minute video walkthrough.
A product video has other uses as well. Once you’re done blitzing the media with it, put it up on your homepage as a piece of promotional evergreen content.
And to find out where to send it, here’s our walkthrough on how to find the relevant journalists and their contact details.
Post on product sharing sites
Connect directly with thousands of potential users and customers with product sharing sites. Aimed largely at tech startups, these sites allow companies to upload details of their new products and services for users to view.
On many of these platforms, users can upvote on the products they like the best. These products then get their exposure increased, such as through daily and weekly emails.
Submissions are free, so these product sharing sites are great for cash-strapped startups at the very beginning of their journey. See it as a DIY alternative to a press release.
Host a twitter chat
Another great avenue for some of that lovely free exposure is to take part in a Twitter chat. This is another one of my favourite two-birds-with-one-stone PR exercises, as it can also massively increase your Twitter following at the same time.
A twitter chat is based around a single hashtag, which as a host you choose. This needs to be about what it is you’re announcing, but for wider appeal, try and link it to an industry trend or something topical.
It can take a bit of planning and you need to set aside a few hours for the actual chat, but it’s another great alternative to a press release, as it’s a cost effective way to build your brand and audience.
Leverage owned media
Put up some scene-stealing video content to reach new audiences. Couple this with an awesome infographic explaining your announcement in a nutshell, utilizing simple graphic design platforms like Canva.
Smash it on your social channels. Lead with a killer hook, something topical to capture the audience’s imagination. Personally, I believe that nothing tops a perfectly pitched gif or meme. They’re literally the most shared things on the internet. Come up with one for your announcement, that rides the wave of a current trend.
Here’s some perfect examples of marketing memes in action.
Maximising the effectiveness of your owned media channels is something that every company should be doing, whether it’s in support of a press release, or in lieu of it.
And there you have it, these are my top 5 press release alternatives. Although a press release is often a first choice when making a new company announcement, all it takes is a little bit of planning to come up with a different way to spread your message. And who says you can’t do both? Sometimes a bit of creativity can go a long way.