In August, Google announced the formation of Alphabet — essentially a holding company, freeing the “new Google” to focus on the core business of search while other projects could continue, albeit in different companies under the Alphabet banner. As the news release stated, “Alphabet Inc. will replace Google Inc. as the publicly-traded entity and all shares of Google will automatically convert into the same number of shares of Alphabet, with all of the same rights.”
Big news, especially when you’re talking about a company with a market cap of nearly half a trillion dollars.
What we found interesting is the the news release quoted was — as far as we can tell — distributed by Google exclusively on the Google Blog. No Businesswire. No PR Newswire. or Marketwire — and I’m willing to bet no snail mail to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times either (although it was probably pitched directly to some key contacts). But that’s not to say that Google/Alphabet doesn’t write and distribute news releases. In fact, the Alphabet announcement was their 10th in 2015 alone, and as a publicly traded company, Google/Alphabet is required by law to publicly disclose material information about the company.
The difference is is not in the use of a news release itself, but in how the news release is “distributed.”
A Long Time Ago…
When I began my career, news releases were usually mailed — literally printed, folded, placed in an envelop, stamped and mailed. As an intern in the Coors PR department during the 80s, one of my jobs was to take an afternoon and actually hand-deliver particularly important news releases to members of the Denver media: The Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, the TV stations with news departments, the local Associated Press and United Press International offices and a couple of radio stations.
In some cases, a news release was one of the safest ways to ensure Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosure laws were met (public companies must disclose certain material information in a manner so that it is readily accessible and available to all interested individuals and institutions). In my early PR days, this was usually accomplished with a news release. However, as early as 2008, the SEC started to allow companies to meet their legal disclosure requirements under securities law with a post on their website. That was a substantial shift in practice.
Fast forward to 2015. Many companies are now relying on either their website or blog as the primary distribution vehicle for their news. In the Google/Alphabet example, the coverage was very good, and from our research, the release was only “issued” through a post on the Google website.
Using Your Website and Blog
Are we recommending scrapping all news releases for blog posts? Hardly. Google/Alphabet, Apple and a handful of carefully watched market leaders are about the only organizations that can make their blog their exclusive distribution outlet and generate strong news coverage. However, using your blog to augment your news release strategy is important. Consider:
- Putting a news release into the form of a first-person post by a key member of your leadership team. This could appeal to your regular readers and stakeholders much more than a release reprint.
- Getting a key customer, analyst or industry leader to write a few paragraphs to help place the release in perspective for the market. Reporters may find that interesting in addition to the release itself.
- Expanding on any coverage you might receive to tell a more direct sales story to engage customers and prospects. If your new product gets a brief mention in a key media outlet, for example, think about featuring that coverage on your blog with a mini-case study or some customer quotes.
- Posting photos or graphics (which can be expensive to distribute via a wire service) to support the story and for members of the media to download and use (remember to make a high-resolution version of at least 300 dpi available for traditional print publications).
The bottom line: even if your organization isn’t being scrutinized daily for news like Google is, an active blog and website can extend the story in your news release to your most important stakeholders.