Product Recalls and the Press Release: Crisis Tool and Opportunity

April 19, 2007

The recent spate of product recalls–from pet food to peanut butter–has me thinking about the role of press releases in the universe of crises. I’m not the only one.

Google noted in its Consumer Packaged Goods blog recently that for the first time in six years, a product recall placed in the #1 and #2 positions in top gaining Google searches.

Noting that “breaking news fuels online searches,” (REALLY?) Google detailed what companies should do during product recalls in the context of online search.

The search giant’s #1 recommendation: Ensure the official information is available by immediately routing searches to the press release and official statements the moment it is available online.”

The press release as foundation document will never go away. Hear that social media types beating the drum on the demise of the press release?

Those sharp enough to leverage that press release not only as media relations tools, but as search engine optimized, direct-to-consumer content pages will weather a recall better than those who don’t bother.

Meanwhile, savvy PR pros like David Muise of Full Spectrum Media seize the opportunity to take the offensive in distinguishing their brands from those tainted. Muise represents Life’s Abundance, an all natural pet food wholesome enough for people to eat.

On April 4, Muise ran a release on Business Wire and EON Enhanced Online News with the headline “Pet Food Recall Has Pet Owners Turning to for Safe, Holistic Dog and Cat Food Alternatives.” The story rated third most-viewed release on Business Wire that day and Muise’s NewsTrak access report reflected almost 1,000 views in the first 24 hours.

“My goal was to reach the consumer and let them know they could be educated and that they have options,” said Muise, adding that the press release distro resulted in more than 250 online requests for pet food samples. “The conversion rate on samples is between 65 and 70 percent,” says Muise. Dr. Jane Bicks, Life’s Abundance founder and a holistic veterinarian, was also tapped by scores of journalists as an expert on pet nutrition, which resulted in ancillary positive publicity and web traffic, “even though the press release had no hard news in it,” says Muise.

Recalls are challenging for PR practitioners and press releases will always be a great tool for managing such challenges. One company’s bad news may breed opportunity for competitors, but in a nod to Don Imus, we at Business Wire and EON: Enhanced Online News insist that clients be tactful. We reserve the right to refuse copy that is “blatantly opportunistic” as we do weekly, most recently with releases exploiting the Virginia Tech massacre.

EON: Enhanced Online News Tips, Tools & a Webinar

April 10, 2007

Hello EON

I have been doing my weekly EON: Enhanced Online News webinar every Friday for Business Wire clients since January. EON: Enhanced Online News is Business Wire’s suite of services for assisting our clients in creating, delivering and measuring search engine optimized, interactive press releases for online audiences.

In doing a weekly one-hour webinar overview of search engine optimization, XHTML and social media as it relates to the press release, it really strikes me how much has changed in the understanding and application of these concepts and tools even in three short months. Increased use of XHTML formatting, anchor text and hyperlinks and Smart News Release multimedia content all enhance the release with information not only of interest to the media but also to customers and investors who are directly reading the Business Wire release online or via RSS feeds (just register at to to create  fully personalized and customized Business Wire news views by industry, language, topic or ticker for your RSS reader).

Our EON: Enhanced Online News specialist team has created several useful tip sheets such as “Writing For Robots versus Writing for Reporters”from our analysis and research on how the press release can be used as not only a media relations tool but also as a direct-to-consumer page of content found both as a search result on search engines and widely on online news sites, social media sites and the blogosphere.

If you are free this Friday, April 13th between 1-2 p.m. ET, join me to learn more about EON: Enhanced Online News.

How Much Does it Cost to Write a Press Release?

April 3, 2007

**UPDATE:  Posted in 2007, this blog no longer reflects accurate press release related costs.  Click here to see our 2013 blog on this topic:**

Monika MaeckleEON: Enhanced Online News Product Champion poses this interesting query….

In a client meeting in Austin last week, a longtime Business Wire client asked how much I thought it cost to WRITE a press release.

After working in the press release business for more than 20 years and being constantly quizzed about the cost of SENDING releases, never had I been asked the cost of producing a press release.  

Obviously it depends on the release.   But the client revealed that with staff and legal costs tallied, his company spent about $5,000 to write a press release. Add to that distribution–anywhere from $180 to $18,000–and that’s a significant investment.

Is it worth it?

We, and many others, think so.  Even at $5K to write a release and a couple of hundred dollars to send it, the humble press release remains today one of the most cost effective communications tools on the planet.   When well executed, the result can be a simultaneous, ubiquitous bang of exposure coupled with a long tail of visibility that can last a liftetime online. 

As Web 2.0 pushes mainstream media to evolve and new platforms emerge to fill the gaps, the press release serves as a cornerstone of the conversation–for traditional media and online.  

Just yesterday a press release announcing EMI’s download deal with Apple rose to the front page on Digg.   The story was covered extensively by mainstream media.  That Digg users went straight to the press release rather than a secondary source underscores its pertinence.

We’re curious how much it costs YOU to write a press releasePlease leave us your comment on this topic.

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