PR Tactics: Matte Releases are Back (They Never Went Away)

The New Year is always a time to take stock and for businesses to review tactics. The disruptive force of internet, social and digital media continues to send a tsunami of change through the communications industry, but one of the older PR tactics continues to survive, and even thrive.

That’s the matte release. How has it survived? Essentially the matte release is an earned media strategy, a short, well-crafted old-style press release with an image, provided free to media outlets and specifically designed to fill a void or niche. Content is still king in digital media and while there are fewer publications and much less space in print, there are also fewer staff members at those publications.

The Matte Release (or MAT release) is usually in the 400-700 word range, written as an evergreen (not topical) feature for a consumer audience. They often fit best in feature sections like entertainment, home and garden, automotive, food/cooking and health and wellness. The typical placement has been in weekly newspapers, the matte releases designed to complement staff-written material.

But the breakthrough may actually be on the web which has a voracious appetite for content. Matte release providers initially offered web publications as a “throw away” or added value—now web publications often offer more eyeballs than their print counterparts and the added perk may now be centerpiece of the public relations strategy.

Online and print media like matte releases because they represent quality content that requires little or no editing. In the old days (not so long ago) matte releases were actual print hard copies laid out in print format, that were “camera ready” which meant, easy to send off to the printers.

Today’s matte release is completely digital, which may even have embedded web links, ready for posting, to drive customers to your website or create social media engagement. Pictures or illustrations in this age of Instagram are more essential than ever before, even if you have to resort to a stock image. The matte release isn’t a press release; it is a news story that subtly incorporates your brand messaging in a credible context as part of a trend, anniversary or other news hook that makes it of interest to consumers.

So in 2016, everything that is old is new again (at least for matte releases)…questions, comments? I’d love to hear from you.