It’s a question we encounter time and time again: What should a press release sent by e-mail look like? Great layout like an e-marketing campaign or rather plain and focused on the content? In the age of paper, there was no question. But today, this discussion is usually driven not by the consideration of how it would be easiest and best for the addressee, but by the many “great tools” on the Internet. Even the free version offers convincing design functions, although they are usually somewhat underexposed in terms of address and contact management and, above all, limited in terms of quantity.

Mailchimp, CleverReach & Co.

“Simply reach more” or “Grow your audience and increase sales”: the messages on the websites of these newsletter tools reveal very clearly what these tools are for. You can use them to design attractive promotional emails and newsletters and quickly distribute them to large audiences. Even the free versions of these applications offer many design options, but are always limited in terms of the number of contacts and/or mailings per day or month. Nevertheless, they have established themselves in many marketing departments and with them the thought that they must be just as suitable for press relations as specialized PR applications. After all, it’s all about shipping to specific distributors. In addition to the design options, fans of such solutions also like to cite other features, such as open and click rates, which can then in turn be evaluated as key figures for the success of the campaigns. But is what works in marketing transferable 1:1 to press and media relations? Rather not, and for very different reasons.

A life with compromise

In practice, the free versions of newsletter tools complicate the daily PR routine tremendously. Because the limits force agencies and press departments alike to get creative. Some create separate accounts for different topics or customers, others import and export address data in order not to exceed the maximum number of contacts. The following applies to both variants, which are actually the order of the day, by the way: orderly address and contact management can hardly be implemented. It is true that the solutions usually also have CRM functionality. But it doesn’t do much good when you have to play with limits. The result: The distribution lists are used several times (variant 1) and are therefore quickly no longer consistent, because changes in one account are not reflected in the other. Or, due to the many imports and exports, at some point the overview of what has been communicated with whom is missing, see variant 2.

Open and click rates are problematic

Since the entry into force of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the addressees of promotional e-mails must expressly declare their consent to receive them as part of the double opt-in process. If their behavior is tracked, they must also be informed of this. It is different if the communication is “in the legitimate interest” of the addressee. In other words, when the focus is not on promotional content, but on information that the counterpart needs for his or her daily work, for example. This is the case with press and media relations. However, this excludes the use of tracking options. This is because the consent of the addressee would also be required in this case. And obtaining this is rarely practical in the context of press relations.

Communicate in a topic-specific manner

E-mails are also only “in the legitimate interest” if they actually contain only the information that is also of interest to the addressee. That is why it makes sense to create press distribution lists that are topic-specific. Depending on the content, it can also make sense here to combine different distributors with each other. Large distribution lists with the title “daily press” or “trade press”, as many use in connection with newsletter tools by necessity, are therefore also problematic and usually not very effective.

Design chic anyway?

This depends on which target groups are to be addressed with the press release. In the B2B sector, the focus is on the actual information and, above all, on simple further processing. If the text is not provided as an attached PDF, but as full text in the e-mail, this makes life much easier for the editors. Copy & Paste works better and faster than having to open or download the PDF first and then often having problems with umlauts or special characters. Not to mention that mails with attachments are more and more often rejected by the spam filter. That’s why it makes much more sense to make press photos, graphics or other files available via an attractively and clearly designed newsroom that can be accessed directly in the e-mail via a link. There, interested journalists will find all the necessary things in one place, including possible office documents, which are not only accepted as attachments by the mail server written on also increasingly rare. Direct download links to Office documents are also increasingly blocked.

In the B2C environment, on the other hand, it can be important that the press release is already elaborately laid out. Especially in the lifestyle sector, a lot is exclusively about a pretty look. But even that can be done with PR software like PressFile. Using tools such as BEE Pro, mails can be designed just as conveniently via drag & drop as with a newsletter tool. The HTML code then just needs to be copied into the PressFile dispatch window and the press release is just as beautiful. PressFile users such as Press’n’Relations prove that this works in practice: Since they no longer send their customer newsletters via CleverReach but via PressFile with the support of BEE Pro, the agency again knows exactly what they have communicated with whom and when in newsletter communication – DSGVO-compliant in “legitimate interest” and still chicly designed.