Press releases have always been a tough sell. Several rounds of “gatekeepers” will read your press release and any one of them has the chance to stuff your release in the circular file. If it’s not practically perfect you have a slim chance of getting the attention you think you deserve.

businessman hand holding magnifier over tablet pcThe more things chance the more they stay the same. The online world has offered a ton more opportunities for every PR pro out there – but at the same time, you’re forced to comply with the same old perfection rules. If it’s not amazing, nobody cares, even if you self-publish the press release.

Modern, digital age PR pros face a few problems that our counterparts in the golden age of print never had to deal with, however:

Bigger Expectations

The simple fact that your press release is online means that anyone viewing it will expect your piece to be “bigger” than ones found offline. If there isn’t something unique about it, there’s a chance people won’t care.

For example, you can have an amazing piece of writing telling the world about your new video game. It would get printed in the local newspaper in no time flat. But online, people want something else. They want links to other materials like videos, websites, blogs, or some other material. They want graphics and a video trailer showing what your video game is all about.

Online users are savvy enough to know that press releases are much bigger and more interactive on the web. If they don’t get it, they’ll move on. A recent example is the new Mortal Kombat fighting game announcement. The video trailer included with the launch announcement had gamers talking for days.

Selling Versus Talking

Go poke around some of your favorite websites. Even if you have an ad blocker on, how many products are thrown in your face? Whether it’s a blog post talking about a new release, or a pop-up ad that your ad blocker doesn’t catch, or even Facebook posts that are designed to trick you into thinking they’re legitimately from friends and family, ads are everywhere.

Your customers are the same way. They get “pitched” to all the time, no matter where they go on the web. If you’re just another company trying to get their money, they’re not going to pay attention to you.

This is why making your online presence a friendly, open one is so important. Knowing the humans behind the company are interested in their opinions and thoughts is much better than seeing yet another ad from yet another company.

Your press releases go a long way towards building this presence. If they’re less “go buy this thing” and more “we think this is cool and we think you will too,” that inspires conversation they can continue on social media and other PR efforts like your blog.

What other problems have you faced as an online press release writer?