Hard news, soft news and the continuously evolving press release

The role of the press release in proactive communications programs has changed dramatically over the last decade. In today’s 24/7 communications environment, press releases are frequently issued as part of larger content and SEO strategy and – often to the ongoing dismay of several of my old-school PR pals – no longer used only to announce formal news.

Russ DeVeau wire distributed content

A few years back, I started using the term “wire distributed content” when writing about the evolution of the press release. It’s a term I continue to use when providing clients with counsel on how to best leverage the many new positioning and visibility opportunities associated with content distributed over a wire service. I put wire distributed content into two categories based on the concepts of hard and soft news. While both concepts can often deliver similar results, the strategies and tactics I employ for hard and soft news can vary greatly.

Hard news means I’m writing a press release that will be issued over a wire service based on a significant move by one of my clients. My number one goal with hard news is to generate coverage. I am generally extremely proactive with hard news and always have a media trained spokesperson on hand to interact with industry analysts, journalists and social media influencers for pre-briefings, interviews on the day news crosses the wires and throughout the news cycle. This cycle can last for several weeks depending on how proactive I am with the news.

I frequently go with a soft news approach when my number one goal is to influence search and usually as part of a storytelling, leadership positioning or reputation management campaign. I will often issue soft news when I want my clients to come up in a search based on a key word or trend. While soft news released over a wire service can result in significant coverage, I don’t always pitch soft news to influencers. Instead, I use soft news as a means to strategically place client messages and as key content for social media distribution.

Some of the most successful proactive campaigns I’ve managed over the last decade incorporate both hard and soft news. This is why I know many of my old-school PR pals – who may be struggling a bit with the concepts of hard and soft news – will eventually come around to understand the value both programs bring to today’s fast-moving communications campaigns. – Russ DeVeau