Here is a list of 7 tips to get the most out of press releases:
- Why: Determine why you are distributing a press release. What are you hoping to achieve? Are you a public company alerting your investors and potential investors about activities that will raise the value of your company? Are you reminding your community that your company provides critical products and/or services that will address their problems and meet their needs? Are you rallying support for an issue or cause, solicit community awareness, support and/or involvement? Are you trying to get the public to come to an event–something that will make them happy or give them pleasure/enjoyment? Are you alerting the community of a problem–do you have a legal obligation to report or address a crisis, or do you need to address this problem to help you get ahead of a crisis management situation? Know WHY, then make certain the why is obvious in the press release.
- Content: Include facts (who, what, when, where, why + who cares?), and be sure to tell a story. Draw your reader into the experience, and engage them. Give them what they want. Make certain it serves THEIR needs more than yours and your company’s. Remember that news is usually something that someone else doesn’t want you to know. All else is advertising. There’s nothing wrong with advertising, at all, but know it when you’re selling it. If it’s actually news, it’s more likely to be carried to wider readerships. Add links and hyperlinks so that recipients can fact check easily and have easy access to details if they need more content.
- Trends: Look for opportunities to address trending topics already getting media coverage. If you can ties your press release into a hot topic of interest, that tie-in can serve as a follow-up article or special interest piece that will probably trigger buzz or keep a buzz going more than a lone wolf story would. Know what’s trending and/or how to spin your story to address trending topics.
- Style: There are different styles that speak best to different types of press releases. Formulas for public companies alerting investors and potential investors are available on the web. As for publicity, writing in AP inverse pyramid style. Create a brief article, which will save print media from needing to do much editing if they are short-staffed and short on content. This will increase your chances of getting your press release published. At all times, proofread, edit, pay attention to legal parameters such as never making a claim about a product or services, etc. It’s an excellent idea to have more than one set of eyeballs on the copy prior to distributing. Editing often makes stronger copy. Keep your release to one page. Brevity is blessed.
- Timing: Timing is critical. Immediacy is most often the best practice for press releases. This means, it’s a good idea to keep CEO quotes at the ready for press releases. As soon as you see a relevant topic is about to trend or a relevant story is about to break, gather the CEO quote, then respond while the topic is hot. Streamline your review process so that everyone responds with urgency. A late submission narrows your chances of coverage. If you are a public company, a late submission greatly diminishes the effectiveness in influencing investors and potential investors.
- Distribution: Best to have a subscription to a distribution service or go through a pro that has access to a distribution service. This is the only way to go for a public company. For publicity purposes, it’s best to have personal relationships with key media personnel (e.g. columnist, journalists, editors, producers, etc.) to help ensure your press release gets noticed. If you don’t have these relationships built yet, remember that flattery will get you everywhere. Know what articles or news pieces these journalists have covered recently. Compliment them, specifically citing why their piece was compelling to you, and then pitch the story you have that might be of interest to them. It can be a slow process. Good relationships usually take time to build, and they are based wholly on trust and accountability, being mutually beneficial.
- Follow-up: Pick up a phone. After you have submitted (outside of a distribution service), pick up a telephone and call your news sources. Do not assume that they received, read or understood your release. Call them, and let them know you sent it. Have a 2-3 minutes synopsis ready to pitch, and request that they cover it. Try to get a commitment. There are some mild soft-sales skills that would be helpful here. If they flatly are not interested, ask if they are working on any similar stories where your company could serve as a source or if they might be interested at another time. Also ask if they know other news pros that might be interested in the story. Try to get a commitment first. If that doesn’t work out, try to get a lead. No matter what, make sure to work on building and maintaining that relationship. Be willing to provide leads to the media pro even if the lead may not benefit your company right then. Personally link them to that lead. The media pro will remember the favor and your generosity. Most likely, the favor will be returned.