January 29, 2024

Capturing press releases for local media revenue

Nico Gendron, Growth Marketing Lead at HearstLab.

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This article was originally posted on Nieman Lab.

It’s no surprise then that the future of our industry is uncertain. Over the past 20 years, productivity tools have made thousands of teams in industries like tech and finance more efficient and able to focus on higher value work. Why isn’t the media industry, especially local news, embracing the same change?

A recent report on the state of local news in the U.S. revealed the outsized impact the decline of local news is having on the media industry as a whole. The study said that “until recently, as much as 85% of the news that ultimately made national headlines was first published in a local newspaper.”

Local news publishers are scant on resources, so it’s not breaking news that the industry isn’t built to survive the current advertising headwinds. Commercial teams don’t have time to broker sponsorship deals with well-serviced national advertisers who have big budgets. Editorial teams don’t have the people power or research tools to uncover community news and stories, like business news relevant to their market.

Supporting local news is trendy but for local news to really thrive, it must be more deeply rooted within its community and intertwined with its local economy. One smart way to do this is by making it easy for local businesses to share their business coverage directly with local newsrooms.

What if local media companies had access to a single piece of content that could both generate revenue and be a research tool to identify the breaking news happening in local communities?

Enter the press release. A press release wields incredible power because it’s a tool for businesses to document their momentum. Businesses care an enormous amount about their press releases because they are reputational in nature. Press releases are primary sources of information.

Because of this, press releases make for strong editorial fodder, which is indispensable in a world of shrinking newsrooms. What better way to power your reporters than giving them an endless well of primary source business news that is both timely and relevant? Plus, press releases are one source of information media companies are never short on. Editors and reporters estimate they receive about 50-75 press releases in their Inbox, every single day. And that isn’t even in a large market.

Press releases have also long been a form of paid content, but publishers have yet to realize the revenue potential of them. Because press releases are the trifecta of reputational, informational, and promotional, brands will pay to publish a press release as paid content. Think of the press release as today’s more-official-than-Twitter version of the town square notice.

Last but not least, press releases are an excellent ingestion point of first-party data in a soon-to-be cookieless world. Qualified businesses are providing their information directly to you, serving up your ad sales team with warm leads straight out of the oven.

It’s time we deepen our roots in our local business communities and build mutually beneficial relationships between newsrooms, advertisers, and subscribers.

Caitlin Kelly, founder and co-CEO of EZ Newswire, contributed to this article.