The Press Release vs. The Pitch. Know the Difference?
In webinars and live lectures members of our team have gone to great pains to explain the difference between a press release and a pitch to students and audience members. As a PR professional, or as part of an in-house team representing your brand to the media, this is one of the most crucial distinctions to make and here is why:
A press release is a timely announcement of news. It’s the who, what, when, where, why and how that you learned at some point in school about how to frame your basic article. These days, traditional wire press releases tend to mostly be used by public companies to make their required quarterly announcements, by large companies to comply with certain regulations or to put changes/new developments out for public knowledge, or by public figures to make broad news announcements about an upcoming projects. In short, its real use is to get imminent information out to the public, casting a wide net to cover your bases.
A press release is not, I repeat not, a story pitch.
A story pitch is when you craft a story angle for a person, place, product, service or idea in a way as to suggest to a particular journalist (or a list of journalists) a way that they could possibly cover whatever it is you are looking to promote in the media.
Too many times we have heard startups or small companies who are inexperienced in dealing with media think that by simply putting a press release out for distribution over one of the many press release distribution wires, that is enough to get the phone ringing and the media abuzz. Perhaps at some point in the past that could have been the case (and that is a big “could”), it certainly isn’t now. Using that one lone tactic will oftentimes leave startups or small businesses feeling deflated, confused, and making a dent in their bank account to boot! Getting decent distribution through a company like PR Newswire for example will run you in the area of $400 – $1,000. Then add images, links or video and forget it. The cost is in the multi-thousands. If you are going to spend that kind of money, you might as well purchase the Cision email database and take a workshop in how to pitch journalists to gain media coverage.
In terms of the Upitch App, PR firms and publicists have often asked us, “Is this app for pitching or for press releases?” And we tell people it is for both. Upitch is a tool and a platform that offers a free and direct way to share your wares with targeted journalists, and in a more real-time setting with direct communication. How you go about sharing your story is entirely up to you, as long as you fit it into a headline, summary, 400 character body, 5 images and links.
If you have news to share, you can post that news. If you don’t have a particular news announcement but would like to pitch your idea, product, service, etc. to targeted journalists, then come up with a catchy newsworthy story angle and post that.
Either way, learn the difference between when to post news or a “press release” and when to post a story pitch.