In most tech sectors, journalists want highly relevant news for their readers, which may be delivered in any number of ways, including the now often-questioned news release. The information just has to be newsworthy . There's nothing at all new about this.
Yet many organizations still issue “My Cat Had Kittens” sorts of announcements and blast them to hundreds of tech journalists. If there clearly aren't external stakeholders (customers, prospects, investors, business partners) who will care about the “news” item you or your PR team may be contemplating sending out — then don't send it out . The world is already filled with plenty of meaningless things. Adding to it hurts your brand reputation and may cause journalists, bloggers, and others to ignore you when you, in fact, do have significant news.
When you have newsworthy information, integrating your information using various on- and off-line media is obviously preferred. Issuing a news release is not usually a yes/no question if you have a good story. In the tech sector, news should always go out using all the channels your company is used to communicating with, perhaps applying new ones for the brand such as social media channels and preferably simultaneously. Tight timing is essential. Also remember the news release is no longer a print-only tool. Consider how a few key links to closely related information can make the release far more powerfully informative. How much push is placed behind a piece of information depends on its value/importance to recipients, not just to someone in management. A CEO's or VP's pet idea still needs to pass the newsworthiness test.
If your brand/company is small or unknown (yes, there are still large, virtually unknown brands), breaking through with just one means of communicating won't likely bring desired results. If your company only occasionally issues news releases via some automated service, they're probably being ignored. Try adding some fresh or alternative approaches to getting the story out — email newsletters, blogs, videos, videoconferencing, social media posts if you have a following, speeches, and even engaging journalists directly for an interview. They may not be available on your schedule, so be sure to try contacting them well in advance. Don't abuse this tactic. Make double-sure the story is good and your spokesperson can deliver well.
When it's huge news, pull out the stops! Don't miss your chance. New companies often miss heralding excitement of their newness because of budget or other problems. Others blow it because they don't have their competitive story together and can't clearly express why people should pay attention.
Events and stunts still work when you've got something that grabs attention. While not a B2B tech brand, when GoPro — the world’s leading activity image capture company (how's that for nailing your differentiation?) — introduced its new Hero3 camera recently, it invited consumer electronics, tech, and lifestyle reporters to take the new camera and discover its benefits. Three venue choices were arranged for the reporters' experiences, and the journalists loved it. More here. Involving the media in the product excitement is a winning way of getting the news out.
Tech marketing history is full of successfully innovative efforts that broke through with big news. It's been years now, but a landmark stunt I recall is when the Concord supersonic plane was rented for a tech product launch that included journalists getting a ride. That had everyone's attention. Talk about reaching escape velocity!
Coming back to earth now, if you're a publicly-traded company, issuing an announcement for “material information” (technical term for SEC-required transparency), then you better be on it with the legally-required and essential forms of delivery, which typically mean a news release. Just posting the info on a blog will probably get someone fired, or a lot worse.
As with so many things in tech marketing and PR, what's best depends a lot on circumstances. “Best-practices” aren't necessarily always the best options in every situation. There may be better ideas if your team is open to them. It's another good reason for having competent, experienced, imaginative PR pros on board well in advance of when the news needs to go out.