The Purposes of Press Releases, How Bloggers Should Use Them, and How PR Practitioners Could Get Them Published on Blogs

Information is disseminated in various ways and one of these is through press releases (PRs).

PRs given during events

During media events, PRs are included in press kits so that attendees could have more details about whatever product or service was launched.

Ideally, bloggers should just use PRs as references to create their own write-ups. After all, they were there during the event so they should form their opinions and have their own thoughts about what they experienced. Unfortunately, a lot of bloggers opt to just cut and paste the PRs and post those verbatim on their blogs, without letting their readers know that it is a PR!

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What’s the problem with that? Well, for starters, blogs were supposed to be, and started out as, a platform for personal writings. So it is very off-putting to see blogs that mostly contain PRs that were not disclosed as such. I’ve visited blogs where the first two entries seem to be written in perfect English and then, when I go further, I’ll read personal entries with dozens of grammatical errors that made my head spin.

My advice? Disclose PRs as PRs. Don’t claim them as your own. Somebody else wrote that. At least give credit to the company who provided you with it. Likewise, if you attended an event, make an effort to write a personalized post about it instead of just cutting and pasting the PR on your blog. A lot of readers visit blogs to know what the writer thought of a product or service, not to just read a bunch of specs.

PRs sent through emails

I am not saying it is bad to post PRs as is. I do that also BUT only when:

1. There was no actual event and the PR was just sent to announce something to the general public
2. I wasn’t able to attend the actual event (so I don’t have anything personal to say about the product/service launched) but want to help the company that invited me to spread the word

Of course, I make sure to indicate "Press Release" on top of the write-up! Check out examples in my other blog.

I’ve been blogging for years and have met many Public Relations Practitioners (PRPs). They often send out press releases to bloggers via email and there are days when I’d receive more than a dozen. I don’t post all of them for several reasons.

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For those who don’t maintain a blog, know that the seemingly easy posting of PRs take time. Personally, I go over the write up and check if there are any typos or wrong information. Since I am a writer/editor by profession, I sometimes do catch mistakes that I correct before posting. In addition, I fix photos to minimize their sizes to make them easier to upload.

Here are some thoughts and tips that I am sure a large majority of bloggers wants Public Relations Practitioners to know:

1. Be considerate of your recipients. Don’t send out PRs without at least telling us what you want us to do with them especially if it is your first time to contact us. I’ve received dozens of PRs without any salutation, just the press release on the body of the email or as an attachment. One of the worst is receiving an email that only contains “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE!” as salutation. Have the courtesy to at least send a short message asking bloggers to consider your PR for posting.

Personally, I deeply appreciate PRPs who take the time to personalize their emails before sending them individually to bloggers and start with, “Dear [name]. It makes us feel like valued partners and not word factory workers. As much as possible, I try to post PRs like those first.
2. Include and resize photos! Unlike magazines and newspapers, most websites don’t require big photo files that are sized in megabytes (MB). They considerably slow down the loading of webpages. So please take time to reduce the photos you send to manageable sizes. In my blog, I reduce pictures to around 100KB only. So it is really time-consuming to be resizing photos before I can post a single PR.

On the other hand, there are PRPs who send out PRs without any kind of photo. When I ask for some, I sometimes get the answer, “Sorry, we have none. But we hope you can still accommodate it.” Duh? It should be part of your job to provide bloggers with all materials especially if you are asking for free space. Don’t make the job hard for us and make us take time to research online just to find photos that would make your write-up more attractive. You see, I am averse to posting PRs without photos because I know readers won’t find it interesting. There is no point in posting an all text PR that nobody would read.

3. Keep track of who have been helping you out. I know of PRPs who indiscriminately send out PRs to hundreds of bloggers perhaps to ensure that a sizable percent would post their press release. And yet, when the PRPs finally hold an event, they also indiscriminately send out invites wherein, many times, they forget and leave out of the list the very bloggers who have been regularly posting PRs for them.

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4. Make bloggers feel that the relationship is a two-way thing. Dear PRPs, we are here to help you but you should also remember to help us. It is disheartening to be asked to post PR after PR without hearing anything about being rewarded for our efforts. Yes, we blog because we like what we’re doing but we also get tired accommodating favors again and again for FREE.

We are not stupid. We know that PR firms are paid handsomely by brands. So getting bloggers to post PR after PR without any compensation may save you a lot of money. But, do you think those bloggers, who have started to feel they are just being used, would continue to maintain a working relationship with you?

That is why I am thankful for the very few PR firms I know that make efforts to show their gratitude. No, it is not about money, or tokens, or gifts. And I am not saying bloggers should be compensated EVERY TIME they post a PR. Rather, it is about give and take relationships. For goodness sakes, people in the public relations business should know that! Sadly, based on my experience, that seems not to be the case.

How bloggers help brands
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So, if you handle hotels or resorts and send out PRs of your promos, consider inviting loyal bloggers for a staycation so they can review your services.

If you handle food establishments and often send out announcements of your latest offerings, why not include a gift certificate to one of your restaurants so that bloggers, who have been posting about the menu again and again, could finally know what the food tastes like?

If you are pushing to promote gadgets, why not have reliable bloggers review one of your products? But please, if it’s not equivalent to the price of a car or house and lot, don't ask them to give it back. Do consider giving it to them as a thank you for their efforts of supporting you for months or years.

If you have accounts for clothing brands, offer small tokens in exchange for the publicity. I appreciate one PRP who always make sure she gives bloggers something (a shirt, a novelty item, etc.) in exchange for posting her PRs.

For the record, these are not demands. They are suggestions. I am not expecting everyone to understand where we, bloggers, are coming from. But I ask that you read this with an open mind. Perhaps then, you’ll realize I’ve made some good points.

© Ruth Floresca - You can share the link but please do not copy and paste this article anywhere without permission from the author. 

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