Storytelling And The Humble ...


Everyone left the news release for dead years ago.

Then Enron imploded, Sarbanes-Oxley arrived and the need for public disclosure resurrected this humble servant.

That’s why you saw Berkshire scooping up Business Wire some years ago. It was a form of “forget mining for gold, let’s sell the pans and sluice boxes.”

But not even the Carnac-like Buffett could have foreseen how the Internet and search engine optimization (SEO) would increase demand for news release distribution.

Beyond meeting disclosure requirements, communication consultancies like ourselves often deploy the news release for syndication purposes, a cost-effective means to build backlinks to a client’s digital property. In this scenario, there might not be any outreach to influencers.

But here’s a question to consider –

Does applying storytelling techniques to a news release increase its syndication quotient?

Logic says yes, a belief reflected in our client news releases like a recent one on a cell phone accessory from Bringrr:

New York – June 22, 2010 – For most of us, it’s a given that we sometimes drive off and forget our cell phone, leaving it at home, at the coffee shop, or at work. It is a frustrating fact of life and, when it happens, we have to turn around and get it or live without our phone for the day. With the launch of a new product called Bringrr, today the chances of forgetting or losing your cell phone have been greatly reduced.

In this example, we did reach out to influencers which, when combined with the syndicated coverage, made for a successful launch.

But how much did the storytelling approach increase syndication over your standard dull news release?

We really don’t know.

Victoria Harres at PR Newswire was kind enough to enlist her company’s brain trust, but the quantification proved elusive for them as well.

Drilling down another layer, how does the influence of a syndicated story grade out? Does most of the value come in the form of backlinks?

A news release that is syndicated typically republishes the news release word for word. This isn’t going to have the same influence on a reader as an article in a branded media property written by a real journalist, but what’s the delta between the two?

What I personally find interesting is in their quest for content, heavyweight business publications like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times republish news releases. It’s caused me to wonder if the brand of book like a Journal or a Times causes the news release to have more juice with the readership.

I don’t know, but my instincts suggest this would be true.

If anyone has insights or better yet, hard data, we welcome your input.


  • Jeremy Porter

    Great companion post to the Mashable piece. Only one thing is for sure, PR and media professionals in in the midst of rapid transformation – and it’s all for the better. There’s never been more access to information – and that’s a trend that will continue. I’m personally looking forward to how all of this evolves. Great post.

  • Lou Hoffman

    That’s an interesting point.

    Everyone recognizes the raw growth of information (particularly of the digital variety) but it’s the incredible access to the information that creates opportunities for communications.

    I enjoy what you’ve done with You’ve cracked the code on building an engaged readership.


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