If your press relations efforts are failing to achieve the results you desire, media alerts could be just the thing you need to breathe life back into a flat lining PR program. When used in tandem with press releases, media alerts can help to further nurture media relationships and ultimately earn your company more news coverage.
Press Releases vs. Media Alerts: What’s the Difference?
Press releases (a.k.a. news releases or media releases) have long been the mainstay of media relations. Written like news articles, with quotes and facts, their purpose is to initiate pick-up by online news channels and generate broadcast, print and online feature stories through larger outlets. Well-written press releases create an image and story that journalists can use alone or as background when writing a story.
Conversely, media alerts (a.k.a. media advisories or press advisories) are used to notify the media of something (like an upcoming press conference, product unveiling, tradeshow appearance or speaking engagement). Media alerts are written to answer the important questions of Who, What, When, Where and Why.
While the press release’s main goal is facilitate news coverage, the media alert’s main goal is to get the media to take a specific action (attend an event, download a report, review survey results, etc.). Think of the media alert as an invitation, while the press release is the actual dissemination of newsworthy information.
Press Release Goal = News Story Written by Media Targets
Media Alert Goal = Action Taken by Media Targets
Filling the News Gaps with Media Alerts
For many start up companies, media alerts are a rarity. Some public relations practitioners never issue them. But the press release’s lesser-known counterpart, the media alert, is growing in popularity within the B2B tech sector and here’s part of the reason why… (the rest of the reason has to do with Internet marketing, which you can read about in my colleagues post, “How to Use PR to Improve SEO Results”)
Many young tech companies set out with good intentions to support a robust calendar of media communications and relationship building activities, but find that they struggle to deliver newsworthy press releases month after month. Soon after comes the realization that it can be difficult, if not impossible, for their company to maintain productive media relations without consistent outreach (remember the old adage, “out of sight, out of mind”).
With a little ingenuity media alerts can help fill the news gaps and provide a continuous stream of communications that will help to keep your company top of mind. Which will in turn translate to more news coverage in the long run.
How to Get Started
Remember that the purpose of the media alert is to notify the media of something that they might find interesting – with the goal being that they take a specific action. To come up with media alert ideas, review both your existing and in plan content assets (case studies, white papers, survey findings, etc.) and calendar of events (webinars, speaking engagements, tradeshow appearances, press conferences, product unveilings, etc.). Then compare the content against the topics covered by your media targets to determine what might be “media alert worthy”.
Before you write the media alert, put yourself in the shoes of the editors and journalists that you are targeting. Give careful consideration to how they might use this information as background when writing a story or how it might help inform them of an important trend. While it is not necessary for you to develop a news story in the media alert, the media will not take the desired action unless you clearly communicate to them the “what’s in it for me?” (view media alert example)
Share Your Ideas and Success Stories
If you are using media alerts in a unique way or getting good results from your media alert communications, please feel free to weigh in and share your insights or success tactics with our readers…