A little known fact in the press release industry is that press releases were created largely by accident- both literally and figuratively.
In 1906 a train crash killed more than 50 people in Atlantic City, New Jersey. A budding young journalist named Ivy Lee convinced the Pennsylvania railroad service to issue a statement about what had happened. He wanted to explain the facts of the accident before journalists could put a different (negative) spin on it. He knew some kind of preemptive announcement would do it, so he convinced the railroad company to let him outline the true facts of what had happened.
In his piece he stuck to simple prose, outlining the Who, What, Where, When and How. It’s said that the New York Times was so impressed with Lee’s statement that they ran the story as is, without any revisions or changes to format. Others picked up on the idea as a useful way to issue statements about something that had happened, or something that was about to happen. In fact, that single press release made such an indelible impression on editors that press releases immediately became a permanent part of their services.
In addition to such things as major accidents, presidential speeches, and other important announcements, businesses quickly found ways to use press releases for announcing their own ventures- such as new products or services.
I bet if you told Mr. Lee what a huge, industry changing affect his idea would have on journalism he would have laughed out loud. Little did he know that he was single handedly shaping the future of news marketing (not to mention shaping the future of online marketing).
For about 80 years press releases were a newspaper-based form of reporting- Used mostly by people in the industry or by savvy entrepreneurs, but by no means capitalized on by everyone.
Frist there was the problem of getting a press release accepted. Second was finding someone who could write it in the right format and who also had connections in the industry to get it to the right people. The “What” of the story wasn’t as important as “whom” the writer had connections with. Like many things, who a company knew was almost more important than what they had to announce.
Much of the same dynamic exists today, but the Internet has leveled the playing field. Press Release Distribution companies have opened the door to even “small time” entrepreneurs who are looking for added exposure for their product or service.
The press release service you choose will deliver results based on their connections in the industry. Needless to say, research in this area is extremely important. If a press release service doesn’t explain up front that they have real connections to real journalists in the industry then don’t even bother with them. Chances are they simply submit to static sites and will not really deliver on their promises.
Like the old days, “who” a press release firm knows becomes who you know. They can get your story into the right hands and in front of the right eyes. They have access to those pools of potential customers that you’ve been itching to contact. They can literally make your company explode- sometimes overnight. Of course pragmatic PR firms will make no such promises, but the potential is certainly there- So is the allure of press release marketing.
Ivy Lee likely had no idea how much impact his simple idea would have. Today press releases are one of (if not THE) single most important avenues of marketing online. The method and structures of PRs have changed, but their efficacy at garnering attention most certainly has not.
It doesn’t take a derailed train to get your story to the masses so contact us today. We can turn even the most mundane of websites or announcements into shining news stories that journalists will be more than happy to run on their networks.
To learn more about Press Release Monkey’s writing plus distribution services, please Click Here.