SMASHING THE MYTH OF THE PRESS RELEASE
by Bill Stoller Founder, PublicityInsider.com
A musician spends years honing his craft. He writes world-class songs and performs them in a manner that moves his listeners to tears. He records a demo tape and sends it to record labels. He gets a contract and becomes rich, famous and adored.
The lesson: demo tapes are secret of becoming a famous musician.
Wait, you say, demo tape was just a tool, just his way of conveying his talent. It's his ability as a musician that got him contract and made him famous.
You're right, of course. He could have become just as famous if a record executive saw him in person, or heard about him from a friend, or as a result of a variety of other events.
Which brings us to press release.
Somehow, press release has taken on a magical reputation as alpha and omega of publicity. Wanna become rich? Send out a press release. Wanna become famous? Press release. Wanna get on cover of Newsweek? Press release.
Publicity "gurus" are springing up all over Internet touting press release as answer to all marketing ills. Just knock out a release, mass e-mail it to journalists, sit back and wait for Oprah to call.
It's a cruel joke.
Here's reality: press release is no more important to your potential of scoring free publicity than demo tape was to our musician friend. If he had no talent, if his songs sounded like garbage, best recorded demo tape in world wouldn't get him signed. Ditto for publicity seeker. If you don't have a story to tell, your press release is utterly worthless.
I'm not knocking press release -- it's an important tool. But it's just that: a tool. It's not first thing you need to think about when it comes time to seek publicity. In fact, it's one of last. And it's not even absolutely necessary (I've gotten plenty of publicity with just a pitch letter, a quick e- mail or a phone call).
If you worship at shrine of press release, it's time to rearrange your priorities. Here, then, are things that are MORE important than a press release in generating publicity: