How to Leverage Controversy in Your Press Release

There are thousands of press releases published and distributed on a daily basis. True, not all of them are competing for the same audience. Journalists cover different industries and story angles. And your prospects and target audience are probably unique to a smaller group of people. 

It all boils down to the need to capture attention with your press release so that it rises to the top of the submissions and helps you achieve your goals. There are a variety of tactics to grab attention for your press release. You can announce earth-shattering news that will change the way people live. Unfortunately, you may not always have earth shattering news to share. 

You may simply have an announcement to make or something big going on for your organization. Occasionally, controversy can work as an attention grabber. It’s not something to use all the time, but it can certainly be an effective addition to your press release marketing strategy and content plan. So how can you effectively leverage controversy? Let’s take a look at a few tips and ideas.

#1 Stalk Your Competition

What is your competition doing? Does it make sense? Is there a way to take an opposite position? For example, maybe your competition has taken a political stance on an issue. You might take the opposite stance (assuming it matches your company vision, brand, and audience). 

You can issue a press release that announces some action or result of your stance. You can stalk your competition quickly and easily by setting up Google Alerts and using their company name as a keyword. Any time anything with that company name is published online, you get an alert. You can also subscribe to their blog, newsletter, and social media channels.


Create the controversy yourself. Within the body of your press release you have the opportunity to add personality to your release. Why not interview a client or customer and reprint what they have to say about your competition? You’ll want to walk a fine line with this tactic. You don’t want to turn your customers off, but a bit of friendly competition never hurt anyone. And controversy can gain your press release a bit more attention. 

#3 Latest News

There is always someone stirring up controversy online or in the media. An easy target right now might be Donald Trump or Miley Cyrus. Look for opportunities to tap into whatever controversy is big in the media and on everyone’s minds.  

Keep in mind that this isn’t a tactic that you can use often, but it can be effective once in a while. Identify opportunities for controversial topics and situations. Explore them for relevancy with your business and your audience, and leverage controversy to grab attention for your business using a press release. 

Anthony Santiago is Director of Marketing at Newswire. With over a decade of experience in PR, he helps ensure that clients understand the value of brand messaging and reach.

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