Why a story always beats a press release

When working in public relations there seems to be a lot of pressure to issue press releases, most of the time press releases are issued on requests from other departments. Things like events, new products, and awards, may all be very important within your organisation, but will the media care?

Here’s where stories come in.

You will never question a good story, you’ll never ask yourself is it newsworthy or will people care.

If the story is great your audience will care, and that’s who you want to engage with. The media will always give a great story the attention, but it’s your audience you want it to resonate with.

Here are five reasons why a story beats a press release every time.

1. A story is direct and to the point

The big problem with press releases are that they are always at least one step back from the action. Their aim is to describe what’s happening, or what will happen, in as detached a manner as possible.

Imagine telling a child a bedtime press release, instead of a bedtime story. All you would be doing is describing something that could be amazing without getting too involved.

The purpose of a press release is to get permission from others to get your story out to the world. You want to create a press release that a news editor, producer, or journalist will shape into a finished story.

You don’t need that permission if you take control and write that story yourself.

2. A story conveys emotion

Branding is about emotional connection — good and bad. Organisations that know how to channel that emotion systematically to customers will succeed. Imagine getting a cold can of Coke on a sweltering hot day. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Ballinasloe or Beijing — the emotional reaction is the same.

At a recent storytelling course I asked attendees to pick a brand they loved. One women picked Chanel perfume. When I probed why she said it was because her aunt first bought it for her on her 21st birthday. She said it always reminded her of that time when she was coming of age. A press release could never capture that emotional bond, but a story can and it can shape your brand.

3. A story takes control and defines what’s happening on your own terms

Press releases are the communications tools of choice of the gatekeeper age. But the gate keeper age is now over. The small device in your pocket is and will continue to define communications. Building your own audience on your own terms is much more powerful than just dealing with traditional journalists.

4. A story is a super tool charged with purpose

The purpose of a story is to inform, entertain, and educate. It’s designed to appeal to the senses of the reader. The purpose of a press release is to inform. I think if that was a football match the story wins 4 to 1 . It’s an easy choice.

5. Writing your own story gives you control

Writing the first version of your own story will always give you control. In a press release you are giving the ingredients to a journalist and telling them to bake the cake. You wait and hope you like the taste of what they produce. If you tell the story yourself you are the pastry chef and can cook up your own delights.

A great story doesn’t require rules, it doesn’t need gatekeepers, it gives you the control.

Next time, try a story, not a press release and see how you get on. Let us know how it goes, we’d love to hear from you!

About All Good Tales

The traditional dividing lines between public relations, marketing, and advertising are blurring beyond recognition. Communications is moving away from dependence on traditional media and towards a golden age of storytelling. We now live in a time when you can nurture and build your own audience and connect with them directly. The best and most successful organisations capitalise on that by putting storytelling at the heart of everything they do.

We exist to help people tell great stories. Because great stories solve big problems and overcome the most difficult of obstacles. Great stories defeat apathy by exciting people’s most basic needs. Great stories overcome distraction by grabbing attention. Great stories are a magnet for more.

We help brands and organisations craft their ideas into compelling stories. We shape public relations, marketing, social media and content.

Would you like to discuss how we can help you? Get in touch with us for a chat, our Account Manager Shane might even treat you to a mocha.