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Multi – Client Press Releases, Part 1: News Updates

Multi- Client press releases, part 1: News updates

This month, I’ll be doing a series on multi-client press releases – considering the pros and cons of each approach, followed by a final thought. First up are…

NEWS UPDATES

This is the classic example. Some PR agencies put together one of these each month or, more commonly, a quarter; in other examples, it seems more ad hoc. Sometimes split into geographical (e.g. Long Haul) or sectional (e.g. Travel; Lifestyle), the press release will contain one item of the latest news per client, often accompanied by a photo.

PROS

In common with all multi-client efforts, distributing a single release – rather than 16 or 27 separate ones – allows the agency not to bombard journalists. You’re packing a lot of news angles into one email, which theoretically ups your chances of success. It’s the equivalent of asking a hundred people to dance in a nightclub – someone has to say yes, surely? Plus, news is always what us writers want to hear about most of all.

These sorts of latest-news releases are also handy to just bung over to any new press contact should one-to-one meetings not be possible.

Then there’s the obvious perk: you can tell multiple clients on multiple monthly reports that they have been promoted to multiple journalists. And (as I well know from my PR days), that always sounds or looks good.

CONS

I would estimate that, on average, about 25 per cent of the news contained within is deserving of a press release. Very often, many inclusions seem like filler: a hotel launching a new, informal brasserie to accompany its five other restaurants; a cottage company debuting two new houses with absolutely no exciting attributes.

Ideally – and putting aside for a second the political gains offered by featuring as many clients as possible – less should always be more here. The trick is, I would suggest, that each included item be noteworthy and newsworthy enough to merit its own individual release. Is that the case? If not, ditch it.

Doing so would also solve another common downside of all-client news updates: they can be long (especially if including photos) and text-heavy. We’re talking five pages plus. I’m someone who tries to read, or at least skim-read, every relevant release I get, but in these cases I tend to do one of two things: start and frustratedly give up, or put it aside for a later scrutiny which – guess what! – never happens.

FINAL THOUGHT

Somewhat hypocritically, given the length of this column, I’d urge you towards brevity if feasible. A multi-client news release with six powerful bits of news will be far more impactful than one with 24 items, and those same six buried within it. I get that you want to make clients happy – but you also want coverage, right?

What Richard Thinks…

“Stargazing at a waterfall? Yes please! Alas, the close-togetherness of these dates rule out a feature pitch (if I attended the first, my article wouldn’t be out before the second), but the event should make for a nice NIB for some publications.”

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