07.05.2013 | Madeline Landis
With shrinking editorial rosters at publications across the country and an explosion of online publications eager to populate their sites with relevant content, an old-school PR tool stands at the ready to help fill the gap – the classic mat release (also known as a matte release.)
About Mat Releases
A mat release is a consumer-oriented feature story that is written and produced in camera-ready format, including art, and then distributed to publications across the country by a vendor, such as North American Precis Syndicate (NAPS). Publications that are looking for content to fill empty column inches can search the NAPS database of articles, make a selection, then drop the camera-ready features into their layout and run them as-is with no need for editing or formatting.
A mat release can be a good use of PR dollars for any company that has a story to tell with broad consumer appeal and reasonably evergreen content. The company maintains ultimate control over the content, so key messages will always shine through. Tips, advice and seasonal stories are good examples of content styles that work well for this format.
Jennifer Gehrt, founding partner of Communiqué Public Relations, has used mat releases with great success over the years for various clients. “When I worked with Waggener Edstrom on the MasterCard account team, we developed and distributed two very successful mat releases,” said Gehrt. “The first mat release aimed to educate consumers about the benefits of paying bills online while the second story focused on motivating people to use debit cards. Our campaign results were impressive, with the placement of hundreds of articles in more than 24 different states.”
More recently the Communiqué PR team developed a mat release about a new online shopping guide for NASCAR fans. This release generated 204 newspaper articles in 15 different states with a readership of more than 8 million.
NAPS, which formed a partnership with Business Wire in 2009, distributes its mat releases to 10,000 newspapers across the country, including 1,600 daily newspapers and 8,400 weekly and community newspapers, according to its website. The combined circulation of its potential reach is more than 200 million.
A typical mat release distributed by NAPS will result in 100-400 print placements and 400-plus online placements, according to the NAPS website. NAPS provides a detailed, graphical report following the distribution of each mat release as well as a clipping service, so companies will have tangible evidence of the ultimate reach achieved for their investment.
NAPS can also provide similar services for companies interested in reaching target audiences through radio and TV.
NAPS provides free writing services to turn a company’s story into a ready-to-run feature, following specific style and formatting guidelines that have proven successful. The company simply needs to supply raw information (a press release, fact sheet, web page, etc.) and NAPS will come up with a recommendation for a feature story. The company maintains control of the content, providing direction and edits until they are satisfied with the end result.
So if reaching a broad consumer audience is one of your PR goals, think about whether a mat release would be a good tool for telling your story. For the dollars invested, the pay-off is guaranteed. And everyone is happy when money has been well spent.