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Which is Better, a Press Release or a Pitch?

public relations Oct 04, 2021

 In a world of shrinking media outlets, coverage is harder than ever to achieve. While some publications are folding completely, others are merely reducing their staff, or bringing on freelancers more than ever to cover additional stories. When reaching out in this environment, which is more beneficial for PR professionals in gaining media attention for their clients, a press release or a media pitch?

In most cases, it depends on the specific goal of the company. Here’s a look at the characteristics of each and when it makes sense to employ both to gain the widest reach possible:

Gaining Momentum Through Pitches

Simply put, a pitch is an attempt to get the attention of a reporter or editor at a media publication interested in your news so that they cover it. A pitch can be tailored or customized to each reporter and outlet, and  is designed to propose a larger, more in depth story

The benefits of pitches include:

  • They provide the reporter or editor a unique angle, as well as access to your experts and possibly some credible third parties
  • A pitch is less formal and used to paint a potential  story, while a press release is very straightforward with the news. Both can be used for trend or news stories
  • Press releases can be expensive to distribute.

Pitches are for proposing story angles or gauging a reporter’s quick interest in something to send more information. Pitches are generally more fun to write because you’re targeting particular audiences and outlets, with a unique story to them. 

Finding Success with Press Releases

A press release is an official statement delivered to media outlets for the purpose of providing information about your company. It creates a record of your news, generally sits on your website and other third-party sites that decide to cover it, and oftentimes is used by the media as background for a story they are writing.  Think of them like resource documents, material news announcements, etc. 

The benefits of press releases include:

  • They serve a purpose beyond media relations. They help get everyone on same page in regards to messaging, can be posted on your website to show history, etc.
  • Having a press release online supports your SEO strategy and can help in page positioning in search results.
  • Press releases are good for news about the company, executives, and new products/regions

Why Not Use Both?

You can! They work best in tandem. 

Here are some reasons to both pitch story ideas and issue a press release:

  • Journalists want angles and if they are interested, more content like a press release can follow.
  • For facts and accuracy about your company, definitely issue a press release. Once issued, pitch like crazy.
  • You don’t always need a press release. Something a relevant blogpost will work just as well. Just be prepared to offer the reporter or editor something they can easily repurpose into a story. You're missing out if you have one without the other.

For me, press releases can also be beneficial if it’s a material announcement. But if there's a story, a pitch is always better (because press releases are not the place to tell your story). They work great in tandem. For example, pitch the reporter first, and then if more information is needed, you can follow up with the press release.  That said, it really depends on the campaign, and/or the objectives. Both are great tools. Pitches often get interviews, which lead to placements. Journalists want angles and if they’re interested, more content can follow. Press releases lay a record.

You’ll never get a feature or a thought leadership piece from a press release, but nor will you get blanket national coverage from a pitch. Sometimes you need a blend of the two to get the perfect amount of coverage.

Want to learn more about the value of press releases or pitches for your next storylines? And of course, for contract, full time and part-time PR and Communications jobs? Sign up for a free trial at RemotePRJobs.com.

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