It’s been my fairly consistent experience over the years that about half of the companies which issue press releases in the industrial and scientific sectors use PR consultancies, and the other half do the job in-house. Disappointingly, fewer companies than ever seem to be using PR consultancies’ full expertise in press or public relations; more and more are simply using them as subcontract writing and distribution services. Maybe that just reflects the changing media.
It’s easier than ever to guarantee publication now, with web sites that publish everything they receive, and so many magazines where you can buy inclusion. It’s hardly unexpected then that the number of press conferences is way down, and what we might call “hospitality events” for Editors are a real rarity. However, what is surprising is that the number of press releases being issued appears to be falling, according to my anecdotal evidence.
We all know that increasingly, companies are going “straight to market” and publishing their news for customers and prospects on their own websites, bypassing the media. But if you’re writing an announcement for your own website, surely it’s not that much extra effort to distribute it to the media? My feeling is that more and more company news is not being written up at all. And that really is shocking.
In the past, with such great competition to get into the trade media, you could be forgiven for being unmotivated to produce press releases. Now that you’ll always get published, because if nothing else, you’ll put them on your own website, why aren’t you writing more than ever? Surely it wasn’t the challenge which was the incentive to write the things?
I think it’s the whole publicity writing chain which has contracted. The resources allocated to it have simply ebbed away. If your company spends more time or money on promotional writing today than it did ten years ago, I’d be interested to hear your story.
However, I also detect a major change. Every time we get involved in rebuilding websites for companies, it’s quickly become clear that the next job will be to re-crank up the writing machine. A successful website is a voracious devourer of content. Nowadays, if a small company approaches us and says they’ve budgeted £10,000 this year to rebuild their website, I warn them in advance that they should put half of that aside to get additional content written.
I certainly have no intention of this consultancy getting into the press and public relations market. But we’re now being asked by many companies to produce great technical content for their website and beyond, and we can offer a good service there. I have access to some of the best freelance technical writers in the engineering, laboratory and electronics sectors, and I’ve been known to write the odd article myself over the years. If you have a 20-page website trying (and failing) to cover 200 products, or if you want a blog section produced each week without getting your own hands dirty, just ask.