In the PR Boxing Ring: Press Release vs. Blog Post
I’d be willing to guess every PR professional has been asked by a client, “Does this announcement call for a press release or a blog post?” It seems like a simple question, but there’s actually several factors to consider in determining which content will best support the goals of the announcement. Taking a step back to compare the two can reveal some under-appreciated benefits of both.
First, let’s meet our contenders. The difference between a press release and a blog post is primarily tone and style of writing. First in the ring is the press release – formal in tone, follows a specific structure, and typically focuses exclusively on the key facts of an announcement. It is distributed to a certain market by a press release wire service like Globe Newswire or PR Newswire. The challenger is the blog post – more casual in tone and is often written in first-person, creating more room for personal perspective and anecdotes. It lives on a company’s corporate blog.
Time to shake hands and glove up – let’s match press release versus blog post to see which can best achieve these common announcement goals:
Round one: If the goal is to drive website traffic
Winner: TKO for press release
Press releases have a reputation of being past their prime, but they aren’t down for the count quite yet. Constructed and distributed properly, aA press release provides significant SEO value. Here’s how the fight goes down:
Newswire press releases, while incurring a cost, get the word out quickly. They sidestep the need for a technical investment in your own platform and come with basic distribution built in, so if your blog is new or has not yet built an audience this can provide a valuable boost. Newswire services also provide a legally-compliant platform for matters of regulatory record, something no self-published blog post can achieve, and if you include links to your owned content you’ll benefit from inbound traffic.
It’s a popular myth that press releases are not indexed by search engines. A simple test shows plenty that are. What’s more, in the latest Google Core 2020 update this month, authoritative news sites rose in rankings. Sites like Businesswire, PR Newswire, and GlobeNewswire gained more than 50 positions each, according to research from SEMRush. That’s enough to move from the fifth page of a Google search to page one!
Of course, blog posts are perfectly capable of driving traffic, and they have a great supporting role to play in launching products, exploring announcements in detail and going deep on details without costing a fortune in newswire fees, but in these times of increased scrutiny on news sources, and for an official announcement worthy of being on the record, a press release still wins.
Round two: If the goal is to develop a brand voice
Winner: Blog post is the heavyweight champ
While a press release comes from a corporate perspective, a blog post provides more of an opportunity to inject a unique corporate voice. A company is defined by its people – and the blog post is one way to spotlight the voices and perspectives unique to the organization’s culture. Identify the person closest to this announcement and ask them to share the story from their point of view (with the PR team on tap for editing grammar and flow, of course).
You can be more creative in a blog post. It could be a tell-all tale of invention and struggle, or it could be a technical deep-dive with enough details to satisfy even the most ardent fact-junkie.
This kind of authenticity and transparency is what truly resonates in today’s communications landscape. Blog posts are gold, and a steady flow of them can build awareness and drive focus in between your landmark announcements.
Knockout round: If the goal is to secure media coverage
Winner: It’s a draw
While a compelling pitch and strong journalist relationship are the most important elements in securing media interest in announcements, the collateral shapes the resulting coverage. Publishing both a press release and a blog post helps tell a balanced brand story. Using a product launch as an example, the press release would typically share the technical functionality, pricing details, and explain why the new solution matters to the company’s product suite and in the market. The blog post, on the other hand, could explore the behind-the-scenes creation of the product from the perspective of the engineer who spearheaded the development. Both perspectives would be of interest to most reporters and would inform well-rounded articles.
Deciding on content is the first step in planning for any announcement. To add structure to this decision and help a client set expectations internally, I’d recommend creating an announcement tier system. This outlines the requirements for each kind of announcement content (i.e. an executive quote needed for a press release) and helps a client determine how many resources to dedicate to each announcement based on the materials they receive internally.
What a press release and a blog post have in common is their ultimate purpose: to share news and tell a brand story. Both are important collateral to consider to make your client’s announcement the Muhammad Ali of the day’s news cycle.