Training Press Releases has launched German and Dutch-language versions of its newswire service. OEB interviewed Training Press Releases’ founder Rob Clarke about how the media is changing and how learning providers can continue to generate publicity in an ever-crowded and ‘noisy’ marketplace.
What is Training Press Releases?
Training Press Releases is a single place where learning providers can post news announcements that are then distributed to key people in the learning sector’s media: news-site editors and journalists; bloggers and other commentators; conference and event organisers; thought leaders and VIPs; industry bodies, groups and forums; market analysts; and corporate and commercial L&D professionals.
Learning providers use it to generate publicity; to get their announcements circulated, syndicated, and passed on; and to generate ‘buzz’ about their activities.
The media uses it to keep abreast of announcements from the industry: one place they can go to for the key news from suppliers. It saves them time, a lot of time, browsing and searching for input and content for their websites, blogs, reports, presentations, and events.
How would you describe what a press release is today?
Press releases are news announcements. They are issued by companies with the objective of gaining publicity, both through the media and to their wider market directly.
They are a great way to establish brand values, build credibility and generate publicity. Press releases are a cornerstone of marketing and business communications.
It used to be that a press release was intended only for the media, with the sole purpose of persuading them to generate coverage. But these days, a press release is just as likely to be seen by a customer, and so it also has to be the ‘finished news’ piece: written for all audiences.
Press releases can also help you understand what a press release isn’t: They are not offers or adverts; they are not articles or blog posts. First and foremost, a press release is issued to create news.
Authors can often fall into the trap of just announcing ‘what is happening’ rather than how it affects people. The best press releases, as well as announcing an activity, are about the ‘impact of that activity’ on the market.
For example, announcing a new senior-manager appointment may seem important to your company, but it’s hardly ever interesting to those outside. But if the press release focuses on the impact of recruiting that person, that could be of interest: perhaps they are expanding into new markets or new technologies, pushing a particular growth strategy, resolving a problem in the market – these facts can certainly be news.
Why is it still called a ‘press’ release?
The term ‘press’ relates to the machines that news was printed on in the olden days; i.e., ‘a printing press’. Yet the word is now ubiquitous with the media: the media and the press are one and the same thing. Some newswires have tried renaming their services as social media releases, news releases, media wires, et al, and, yes, they do all describe ‘it’, but often calling a press release a press release just works better. We tend to call press conferences ‘press conferences’ and not ‘media conferences’!
How has publicity changed?
The media used to act as gatekeepers to publicity. We would send representatives of the media a press release, and they would decide if it (or part of it) was worthy in their view to be published. Today’s press releases are just as likely to be viewed by the end audience as they are by the media. But of course the media still has a role, and it always will have, as long as we want someone to filter announcements and create our ‘news, reviews, and opinion’.
But the media’s traditional roles have become blurred: today’s media includes a wider variety of people to whom publicity professionals can sell their stories. Look at the learning industry, where Training Press Releases is focussed: the learning industry’s media doesn’t just include journalists and editors, important as they are. For today’s learning providers to generate publicity, we must also convince the social community and bloggers; thought leaders; people who speak at conferences; people who write articles and reviews (who might not consider themselves ‘journalists’); market analysts; conference and event organisers; industry groups and forums; and even just people who tweet a lot or have a large social footprint. Then there’s the whole host of websites that carry news about learning (but that don’t consider themselves as ‘news’ sites or online magazines).
It is impossible for any learning provider to keep such a list and to keep it up to date. They’d need a full-time person doing nothing else. I know – because I’m that person at Training Press Releases!
How can the modern press release help?
The press release is the best way to structure an announcement to the world. Done well, the press release should be seen as a great way to keep all of your different audiences up to date: the media (including all of the different media roles mentioned above) as well as employees, stakeholders, customers, suppliers, and, yes, even competitors.
While concise, the press release has sufficient room to contain ‘detail’. Publicity professionals can use press releases to attach their company’s values to the hot issues in their market, and, hence, to get noticed!
The press release is best seen as a starting point for publicity and social buzz: press releases occur at a single moment in time and endure as a permanent record of the original, intended announcement. Press releases don’t ‘become the conversation’ or become weakened, changed, or adapted by time like a blog, social media post, or email conversation can. (But these all then serve as great ways to amplify the announcement.)
Publicity requires investment in content marketing, communications skills and knowledge. Newswires won’t just take any old announcement: PR professionals are required to maintain high standards to get their announcements published. This takes skill, creativity and committed investments over a period of time. Without a good content-marketing programme, companies often struggle creatively to develop good quality, regular news announcements.
While issuing press releases regularly is certainly required to establish awareness with the media, first and foremost they have to be newsworthy. Those who overlook this can give the impression they have little of value to say, yet seem to be shouting all the time. It’s better to focus on a couple of strong, newsworthy announcements each month that actually get noticed than several each week that just fill up the Internet!
Using news is a powerful way to improve search results, i.e. connecting your company’s announcements with what’s trending in the market and what customers are searching for. (But just as with all good marketing, be sure to follow good SEO practice and avoid black-hat SEO or ‘foul play’. There’s no substitute for creating good, newsworthy press releases.)
How will Training Press Releases help the German and Dutch learning industries?
By creating separate, local newswires, the German and Dutch learning markets will each gain a new and exciting news channel. It will create a buzz amongst the learning providers and across our L&D communities.
Since its early beginnings, Training Press Releases has always attracted news announcements from German and Dutch learning providers and has had wide local distribution, but the content has always been in English only. From November this year, German and Dutch learning providers will now be able to distribute announcements on TPR in their own language.
Training Press Releases provides a local channel to generate greater publicity and coverage, achieve better search results, and save everyone a great amount of time: both learning providers needing to get their story out and media professionals needing a source of inspiration and content for their websites, publications, and social networks.
Training Press Releases’ new German and Dutch newswire services are being set up by learning-industry veteran Robert Bezemer. With a career approaching twenty years in L&D, Robert has gained a wealth of knowledge of both markets, has an extensive network, and is a popular face at learning conferences. His experience includes building a European alliance of learning providers that work together on large-scale learning projects, and he has been instrumental in introducing new learning-analytics and performance-support technologies into the market.
“Getting a job done well – and quickly – is often about having the right tools. When you’re distributing news stories, Training Press Releases is, quite simply, the right tool for the job.”
– Robert Bezemer, Training Press Releases Germany and Netherlands
Training Press Releases launches its German and Dutch newswire services at this year’s OEB, in Berlin from 2-4 December.
Further information is available from Robert Bezemer at Training Press Releases: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also find more insight about writing press releases and creating news in the following article by Rob Clarke: Newsworthiness, identifying the heart of the story.