BY EMILY ROBERTS
Good Coverage Equals Goodwill: 6 Ways to Get It [Free Webinar
Here are a few tips on how to produce a press release that will get more attention in busy press rooms nationwide.
Make sure it’s worth publishing
Companies get excited about whatever news they have and automatically believe that it’s newsworthy. Why shouldn’t a press release service carry the information? Why wouldn’t a relevant industry publication pick it up and write a piece based on the details supplied in the release or contact the company’s press office to get more specifics? Making this assumption is dead wrong.
The company should start by asking whether the news has any relevance either to the would-be publisher of the news piece, to the industry the company operates in, or other companies. Not losing the respect of busy journalists by constantly issuing nonsense press releases that say very little is important otherwise they won’t bother to highlight real topical issues or newsworthy pieces when they do come up.
Avoid using industry jargon or buzz words
While you may well understand the latest industry jargon, it’s possible that the reporter covering your industry (among many others on their list) has little or no familiarity with it. They may have just recently been assigned as being responsible for the coverage and don’t know much about it—in which case, a press release that uses a ton of jargon is only going to distance them from reporting on the story.
When it comes to buzz words, they tend to be overused. Marketers and business strategists love to throw in some buzz words to sound like they are “in the know,” but most of the time it falls flat. You’ll find that many companies are trying the same thing to stay relevant and it’s all rather obvious. In most cases, the terms don’t even apply to their latest product or service offering. Talking more plainly about the advantages of your new product in layperson’s terms is far more effective, which then leaves it up to the reporter to word the news however they wish in their own copy.
Only approach journalists who will find it interesting
To build up initial interest, it’s useful to find the small handful of reporters who are the most on point with industry news and love to keep up with the latest goings-on. Reporters who have a laissez-faire attitude towards your industry aren’t really doing your company any favors. Look to develop a relationship with the best reporters and provide them with small exclusive bits of additional information to make them feel special and in the loop.
Once the smaller group of journalists publish their stories, other news publications and industry periodicals will likely pick it up as a story of interest and run their own version of it. They’re more likely to call for additional information to avoid simply regurgitating the same information in different words too. In this way, you can develop multiple tiers of press contacts and treat them accordingly to leverage the business relationship more carefully. Doing so may also lead to a cascade effect on new press stories with reporters going on the offensive to get the next inside scoop.
Put extra time into the headline
Just like with a good news story, getting the attention of the reader with the headline at the top of the press release is crucial. When it’s a humdrum headline that doesn’t even raise an eyebrow of initial interest from a media outlet, any heat in the story is lost for good.
You only have a few seconds once the press release has reached a reporter’s desk to grab their attention and make them want to read the actual release. Be clear, concise and factual with your information. Ensure that busy journalists can grab the point of your press release having read its headline without needing to read on to understand it. If they’re already confused, they’re unlikely to read more unless you represent a major corporation where it’s incumbent on them to follow what’s going on with the company.
Avoid the crowd by sending press releases in the mail
Just like how the penned letter has been largely replaced by email, press releases are often sent electronically now. This leads to an opportunity to make an impression by sending your press releases out by mail. Keep it looking professional with a custom printed business envelope, like these from Company Folders. Envelopes come in many different styles and sending your news in one that is made-to-order will make you look more official. Your releases are likely to get opened as a bit of a novelty item which gets them more attention than they otherwise would receive. Bear in mind that in the sea of press releases that journalists receive on a daily basis, delivering one in a different manner helps to stand out from the crowd in the same way that Apple does with their staged product expos each time a new iPhone, iPad or Macbook Pro is released.
Shorter is better
Most press releases aren’t very long. They’re not a pillar post on a blog trying to garner attention. They’re a brisk 300 words or so. Readers will be expecting short, punchy paragraphs including one or two quotes (not more) from the CEO, department head, lead designer, or someone else who makes sense to be quoted.
Be sure to include relevant headings, bullet points and other methods that communicate information more clearly in a visual manner. When a chart or an image would be helpful, including one.
Put biographical info and other backgrounders in an editor’s note
When wanting to cover a short history of the company, do this under an “Editor Notes” section to separate it away from the main release. News reporters can then use this as background information for their article to give it more of a human element and avoid it just sounding like a press release too.
With a press release, you’re automatically dealing with a myriad of other competing releases that are being published by other organizations every day. Larger corporations can even have multiple releases coming out daily depending on the size of their organization and how many divisions it has. It’s difficult to stand out from the sheer volume of information sent to the press.
Using a proven system to cultivate effective relationships with prominent reporters who have been covering the industry for years is very useful. Being more selective about the press releases that are promoted heavily and the ones that barely get much distribution is important to avoid reaching a saturation point between the company’s news and reporters’ level of interest in hearing about it.
A well-timed, carefully targeted press release is worth more than three shoddily produced ones that fail to get any attention and receive little coverage in the industry press, or in local or national newspapers. Follow the maxim that less is more when it comes to releases. Fewer words, better reporter targeting, and genuinely newsworthy stories will work wonders for the amount of press ink that the company can generate.
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