Many PR and marketing veterans say joint press releases offer outsized publicity that a firm seldom can obtain on its own. Both companies gain increased exposure through the partner’s distribution channels. If both partners are reputable, both gain access to new leads and additional credibility through association with the partner.
“By issuing a press release in conjunction with a business partner, your company receives significant implied referral value from that partner,” writes Dave Orecchio at inbound marketing firm Bristol Strategy, in Business 2 Community. “This helps to build perception for your brand among your business partner’s network of customers and prospects, which may be an audience that your company would not otherwise reach.”
Although they may double the PR value, joint announcements may also offer double trouble. Both businesses must review and approve the release, possibly leading to complicated haggling and disagreements over wording. The wrong partner may also detract from the reach or the message.
Best Practices for Partnership Press Releases
These recommendations from PR and marketing experts can help organizations overcome inherent challenges of joint announcements and reap their full benefits.
Set the ground rules. First determine who will lead the process, who will write the first draft, who will oversee editing, who has final approval, and who will handle distribution. “With partnership releases, there are often many cooks in the kitchen, so it’s best to get everyone on the same page up front and assign roles,” writes Kate Nesbitt for SpeakerBox Communications.
Define who cares about the news. That audience will help you create your headline and set the foundation of the news release content. List the reasons why the audience cares, then prioritize the list, advises Anthony Santiago at Newswire. The top reason dictates the headline. If it’s new jobs to the community, then the headline would be: “ABC Company Merges with DEF Company and brings 500 new jobs to Smithville.”
Protect your interests. Don’t let the other side take total control of the PR and press release. Be involved to protect your interests, warns Bobbie Carlton, founder of Carlton PR & Marketing.
Follow clear version-tracking practices. Make sure all parties turn on revision tracking. Assign a version number to drafts and have everyone add their initials to documents they review. If you write the first draft release, don’t name it with only the other company’s name. In other words, a press release draft I review would be MyCompanyPartnerCompanyRelationship v2BC, Carlton advises.
Question the quotes. Press releases frequently include quotes from executive leaders of both firms. They may lavishly praise each other in so-called “flattery quotes.” Readers don’t care how much the partners love each other, Carlton says. Excessive praise may also offend other business partners who think they have preferred relationships with your firm. Instead, use the quotes to focus on benefits for customers – and write executive quotes that wow, not bore.
Optimize the release for search. Search engine marketing (SEO) is now an essential PR and marketing element for any business. SEO can increase your search engine ranking, drive more traffic to your website, and improve the quality of traffic. Include keywords in the headline, subheads, anchor link text, and within the body of the text. Include a link to both company websites in the body of the release, but be warned that Google’s algorithm punishes content mills that churn out releases filled with spammy, “unnatural” links. Follow Google’s rules about anchor text, and avoid stuffing the release with keywords by repeating them.
Seek multimedia content. Infographics, audio clips, photos and especially videos grab and hold attention and tell stories that people tend to remember. Multimedia content also helps busy reporters and editors quickly understand media pitches and content, increasing chances of obtaining media coverage. To find the ideal angle and visual, formulate a creative brief and invite key participants to help brainstorm visual ideas for both online news and broadcast stations. A wide range of options are available to produce multimedia content, including agencies, freelancers and DIY tools.
Follow other recommended best practices when crafting and distributing the release. That includes clear, succinct writing free of clichés and industry jargon. Thorough proofreading prevents embarrassing mistakes from appearing in print or online.
Agree on a release date. Set a release date that works for both companies’ news cycles. Beware of an announcement too close to other important company news. Releasing news releases on the wrong days can sink or seriously harm a PR campaign. Unless your announcement involves time-sensitive breaking news, avoid issuing news releases on certain days, such as just before a long weekend or when large corporations are hogging media attention. Some businesses avoid distributing news releases during the holiday season unless they have a seasonal connection, but that time offers unexpected PR opportunities because PR activity slows.
Promotions on owned media. Place the release on both companies’ websites. Even if the release is available online as a website page or blog post, create a sharable and printable PDF version, Orecchio recommends. The PDF enables sharing of the information. Search engines will index the PDF’s text, increasing the possibility that others may discover it through online search. Also email the announcement to customers, prospects, employees and other stakeholders.
Distribute the news to the media. Experienced PR pros now recommend against paying for news release distribution services, except under a few situations. Commercial news release distribution services place news releases in front of few, if any, relevant journalists. Instead, PR pros can build their own media databases with a spreadsheet and some diligent research. Create a targeted list of news outlets, send announcements directly to media outlets, and seek to develop long-term relationships with journalists as well as leading bloggers in the niche.
Track the release with media monitoring and measurement. A media monitoring tool will report when news outlets publish the press release. PR teams can then amplify the media mention on their websites and social media. A media measurement tool can gauge the value of media mentions with a range of valuable metrics such as coverage, visibility and geo-impact. That will prove the effectiveness of the release and overall PR strategy to both companies. When reviewing monitoring services, ask if they offer a free trial.
Bottom Line: Joint press releases, a common PR tactic, can offer outsized publicity benefits as well as special challenges. Businesses can manage the multiple cooks in the public relations kitchen by assigning roles and establishing PR procedures upfront. The results will more likely be a joint success.
This article was first published on May 2, 2018, and updated on Dec. 4. 2020.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.