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Sponsored Post: Rather than rely on Facebook, send out a press release

By Howard B. Owens
social media

Local organizations are increasingly relying on Facebook to announce their events and other important announcements without putting out a press release.

Here’s why that’s a bad idea: Not everybody on Facebook sees everything you post. In fact, only a fraction of the people who follow your account will see your post in a timely manner.

We missed out on two events recently  -- one where the organizer wondered why we didn’t show up, and the other, we wondered why we didn’t know about it in advance. In both cases, we were told, “but it was on Facebook.” 

At a third event, I found out about it by accident when the event was already more than half over. It was an important event, and I was free at the moment, fortunately, so I rushed over and took care of some coverage.  When I got there, the response from multiple people, including key organizers, was, “You didn’t know about it?  It was all over Facebook!”

All of these organizations have, in the past, recognized the importance of issuing press releases for important events.

It's good that these organizers still expected and wanted coverage from The Batavian and expressed disappointment when we missed it.  But if we're missing their Facebook posts, so are a lot of other people they might like to reach. This message is intended to help them understand why it's important to send out a press release.

Facebook uses a formula called an algorithm to control what you see and when. This makes it easier for them to mix ads into your feed and to, they think, make your feed more engaging so you waste more time on the platform.  They believe they are filtering out the dreck that will not be as interesting to you as the stuff they do show you.

The Batavian doesn’t use an algorithm. When a press release is posted to our home page, all of the readers who visit that page see that post. That is, reliably, at least 10,000 local readers a day and as many as 20,000 individuals over a three-day period.

No Facebook post for any local organization is going to have that kind of local reach.

Reliance on Facebook by local organizations is a problem for all of us. It deprives local organizations of greater reach, means many people who might be interested won’t find out about the event and weakens the bonds of a local community. And in the long run, it might lead people to think local news outlets aren't all that important.

If local news organizations go out of business, nobody will go to meetings of government agencies and write stories that put government actions in context, ask hard questions of public officials, request public documents officials might rather keep under wraps, or do any of the other reporting activities that help hold government agencies accountable.

Where there is a dearth of local news coverage, government corruption grows.

Without local news outlets, over time, the diminished attention local organizations receive on Facebook will eventually make it harder for them to stay relevant, raise funds, and attract and retain members.

Facebook may seem like the new shiny thing that is fun to play with, but it is not the friend of this or any other local community. It exists to take money and attention out of communities to enrich shareholders.  Unlike a locally owned news outlet, it's not invested in a local community.

Posting first, or only, to Facebook favors wealthy media tycoons in Silicon Valley over locally owned news that are dedicated to serving their communities.

So, local organization leaders, please do us all a favor and prioritize our community over multinational corporations. Please send out press releases before posting your news to multinational media outlets.  You will get better results and help ensure the local news outlets our community needs to thrive will continue to provide us with local coverage.

Email press releases, media alerts, and calendar items to

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