Though many companies use them with great results, personnel news releases are possibly among the most undervalued marketing communications tools available. Sometimes, I’m asked what purpose personnel news releases serve beyond generating sales calls from the likes of life insurance agents and image consultants. I have been asked if personnel releases actually generate worthwhile publicity, to which I have responded with a resounding affirmative.
The development and distribution of a personnel news release to announce the promotion or hiring of a professional is standard practice of public relations. It serves several purposes: it’s part of the process of informing targeted media and their audiences about company developments and the announcement of the person’s career advancement while indicating that the initiating company continues to thrive. Personnel news releases are extremely useful marketing communications tools in the quest for top-of-mind awareness. They subtly promote a company’s success, help make the most of frequency and timing and expose initiating companies to other publicity opportunities.
Promoting a Company’s Competitive Stance
Admit it. You want to know who the movers and shakers in your industry are. After all, how can you be competitive and know who you need to know if you don’t investigate who holds the top spots? To stay informed, you read the announcement sections of your local newspaper and business journal in addition to the professional news section of your trade journals. What you read there are the results of companies issuing personnel news releases.
The Benefits of Message Frequency
Personnel news releases help keep a company’s name in front of the public, including potential recruits, prospective customers and other influentials. The more often people see the company’s name in a positive light, the more they become familiar with its business, which increases the likelihood of their wanting to know more about the company. This in turn promotes unaided recall; the company is among the first that comes to mind when a person is in need of its products or services.
The benefits of message frequency extend to the editorial community as well, as being in the right place at the right time can lead to the inclusion of the initiating company in feature and trend articles.
For example, I wrote personnel news releases for one growing California-based homebuilder and real-estate developer that maintained, over a two-year period, a campaign of issuing personnel news releases with each new management-level or above hire and promotion. In that time, the company issued 30 or more personnel news releases. Because of this, its target editors and reporters were familiar with the company, its practices and the caliber of people it hired and promoted. The publicity from the announcements in local and national media led to the inclusion of the company in trend articles about the growth of home building in its target markets. One trend article even evolved into a stand-alone feature profile on the company in one of the industry’s top trade publications.
On another occasion one of the client’s news releases appeared in the e-mail inbox of an editor who was just starting a feature article. She was in need of an industry expert, and the news release announcing the new employee prompted her to call the company to arrange an interview.
Other Marketing Communications Opportunities
Your personnel news release or the published announcement may be read by a coordinator for an upcoming industry conference who needs to fill a speaker’s slot. Your well-timed personnel release announcing the kind of expertise needed can land the perfect speaking opportunity. The personnel news release could also lead to invitations for networking opportunities through charity organizations, new professional associations, advisory panels, and so on.
Efficient and skilled communicators use the information included in personnel news releases to develop a variety of marketing communications and sales materials. Here are some additional suggested uses:
- Excerpt information and create short biographies to introduce team members when making sales calls, meeting with outside influentials or building community relations.
- Submit releases as part of applications for speaking engagements or presentations.
- Use the background information from each release to identify people in the organization who have special talents or experience in specific areas.
- Use personnel news releases to create handy reference sheets used to introduce employees to the media as experts on various topics.
- Post personnel news releases on the company intranet to announce new employees to the rest of the company.
- Promote internal employee relations by publishing interesting details contained within personnel news releases in company newsletters.
Optimizing Personnel News Release Distribution
It’s essential to send personnel news releases to all the media contacts who normally receive news from your company. This includes horizontal business and news outlets as well as trade outlets. To expand coverage, personnel news releases should also be distributed to:
- Employees’ hometown newspapers
- Employees’ alumni publications
- Community associations (in which the company or the employees are members)
- Professional, church or nonprofit organizations (in which the company or the employees are members)
Publication Time Frames
Keep in mind that it can take longer than you might expect for your release to run after it’s been distributed to media outlets, even online ones. Print magazines often prepare copy for publication two or more months in advance, so personnel announcements may not be published for 60 days or longer after they’re received. Even daily newspapers and weekly journals sometimes have backlogs of several weeks.
A personnel news release should contain: the person’s new title, a brief description of the person’s new responsibilities, prior work experience, educational background, community and professional associations involvement and, if desired, the person’s marital and family status and place of residence.
Some will also include a quotation from the subject’s supervisor or company leader commenting on the expectations for his or her future performance. The quotation might also comment on the subject’s demonstrated abilities and accomplishments.
The personnel news release is issued by the hiring company on its letterhead and includes a brief description of its business mission, headquarters and contact information. Since these are news releases, not paid advertisements, media outlets are not obligated to publish them, particularly if they’re tight on space.
Personnel news releases tell the world that your company is successful. They give you an opportunity to include information on the company’s growth and ties to industry trends. They underscore the caliber of your employees. They can lead to other editorial opportunities, and they are useful in creating other sales and marketing or internal communications materials.
To some, personnel news releases may seem like a minor tactic. In reality, they are valuable marketing communications tools that promote a company and its people in many, sometimes major, ways.
Copyright 2006 PRSA. Reprinted with permission by the Public Relations Society of America (www.prsa.org)