3 News Release Strategies to Include in Your Media Relations Toolbox

By Amanda Ensinger
January 28, 2021

As newsrooms continue to cut staff and reporters are being asked to cover more with less resources, PR professionals are looking for creative ways to ensure their pitches stand out.

A typical reporter receives up to 100 pitches a day. A 2019 study that survived 500 journalists found that 40 percent of respondents said email pitches weren’t helpful. So, how should pitches be presented in the most impactful way?

Press releases are often used to create news. They tell a story and present all the information that members of the media need to report it. However, not all releases are the same. They may come in different forms, and which one to use often depends on the situation.

As you plan your next media relations campaign, weigh your options and determine which release will help you secure the most return on investment.

  • Press release: This is most traditional release that PR professionals use when trying to raise awareness. There are a variety of different types of press releases, but they all are formatted similarly and include a date, header, subhead, boilerplate and contact information. These releases are usually around 500 words and may be about an event, new hire, award, feature/product, rebranding, partnership or charitable initiative. A press release is promotional and is pitched to media the old-fashioned way—via email and phone calls. With today’s understaffed newsrooms, if you can get a reporter to read your press release, you have a good chance of getting it picked up because they can quickly turn it into a story using the information provided.
  • MAT release: A MAT release is a branded, consumer-facing article that is published in a network of print and online publications. A MAT release also is called a matte release, syndicated content, or an advertorial and is typically 400 to 500 words. An organization or agency works with a MAT release partner, like Family Features or Brandpoint, to write and distribute the release to its media network. For a fee, a brand can have guaranteed press coverage and reach millions of target audience members. It also can save time in researching and pitching reporters. A MAT release topic should be relevant to the brand’s expertise and offer solutions to a common challenge. Avoid promoting your brand and instead position the brand as a thought leader or expert in their field. If a MAT release is too promotional, it won’t resonate with audiences, and outlets won’t run it.
  • Wire release: A wire release is a press release that is distributed via a wire service, such as PR Newswire or Business Wire. The wire service distributes the release to its network of print, online, TV and radio media outlets. These outlets then decide if they want to run the release. While a wire release does not have the guaranteed placement that a MAT release does. Many outlets do pick up the releases and run them word-for-word. A wire release does, however, allow for direct promotion of a brand, which is something a MAT release does not. There are a variety of wire services—some focus on national consumer media, while others strictly focus on business, trade, or local media. Pick a service that will reach intended stakeholders. Depending on budget, a wire release is a solid tactic that helps to increase reach and increase chances of pickup.

Consider goals when choosing what type of release to use. What type of audience do you want to reach? Are you looking to maximize press coverage or achieve fewer but more impactful placements? Your answers to these questions will help determine which type of release is the best fit.