By a factor of two to one, you feel news releases should be targeted directly at end users. This means your message will reach your target audience without distortion. Consequently press releases should be drafted with this end audience in mind, as well as the press.
I’m afraid I disagree with that. I think press releases should have one audience in mind – the media. Now of course there is a whole debate about the effectiveness of the humble press release as a media vehicle, which is not a can of worms I want to open here, but I feel there are better ways for companies to reach out to their audiences than a press release.
While many of us dislike the direct mail which oozes through our letter boxes and into our inboxes each day, it can be hugely effective if given some imagination and if the mailing list is well targeted. This has the advantage of form, as well as content in getting your message across.
If you think press releases are good due to the Google juice a wire service can give then, then try blogs which are more personal and bi-directional. I think a blog post is a much better way to reach your online audience than a release they find on a search engine, since readers can write back, find related material and get onto your site. An online release has no branding and no interaction.
And the main thing you lose with a direct-to-consumer release is the third party credibility the media can bring. I’d rather audiences found online coverage than an online press release since it will have more impact.
Of course, there will be some end users who read press releases, and in a b2b environment, I’ve heard sales teams ask for ‘air cover’ of press releases they can point to, especially when breaking into a new market, just to show they have some presence. But I feel this is a not a path, PRs should go down. Once you forget who you are aiming your news release at and try to broaden it to the final audience, you run the risk of bastardizing the content to please no one. The humble press release should not be stretched into becoming a direct mailer, poor thing.