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Staggered press releases – the pros and cons

Home PR Insights Staggered press releases – the pros and cons

Staggered press releases - The pros and cons

Last week, I spent several hours giving some of the Sauce Communications team my thoughts about how to make press releases most useful for us journalists. I found it really useful to be reminded (from my own PR days) of the PR perspective and – ah, yes – of that one really obstinate client everyone seems to have! Ultimately, a lot of things that are very frustrating for journalists are equally frustrating for you PRs; maybe more so.

While preparing, I began thinking about those times when a press release’s distribution is clearly staggered. So, for instance, I might see a new story appear on Boutique Hotelier or the like – “Croydon hotel receives world-record 19th Michelin star”, say – then be sent the press release saying exactly the same a day or two later.

PR professionals stagger distribution for good reason. Often, if you want coverage in Publication A (e.g. Boutique Hotelier), the price of that is granting them an exclusive and potentially cheesing off Publications B, C and D. Ultimately, I suppose, it hinges on how important Publication A is to your client.

For me, though, this is troublesome in two ways. Firstly, if it’s clear that Boutique Hotelier (and possibly many others) received the press release quite a while before me, that feels faintly like a snub; like I’m on the mail-out B List. Ouch.

The second, more problematic scenario materialises if I don’t check Boutique Hotelier or anywhere else, instead assuming the release has just been mailed out for the first time, and excitedly pitch. My editor might reply: “That won’t work, Richard, the story is already out there,” – and I’ll look amateurish. That screw-up would at least partly be on me, though: it’s my responsibility to check a story’s exposure (or not) before pitching it.

Is there anything PRs can realistically do to prevent this scenario? You could possibly put a footnote on the release, apologetically specifying where coverage has already appeared – but I sense that might do more harm than good. You certainly mustn’t give the same title the exclusive every time; it’ll render other publications permanently disinclined to feature your client. And you should stagger the release’s mail-out in a maximum of two waves: to the publication receiving the exclusive, and then to everyone else at the same time.


What Richard Thinks…

“Hotels are taking to TikTok! Realising his unusual story, Adhi’s title is simple but attention-grabbing. Kudos, too, to his unusual structure: a two-paragraph summary with the full press release then available via links.”

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