Keep The Press Release In Your Marketing Toolkit
Press release. News release. Media pitch. Call it what you will. For decades it has been a tried-and-true vehicle that puts valuable (albeit generally positive) information in the hands of reporters, news directors and others who then shared it with their newspaper readers, TV viewers or radio listeners.
Given the dramatic changes in the media landscape in recent years, more organizations are raising the question: “Is the press release dead?” The explosion in 24/7 cable news, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media platforms certainly changes the dynamic for getting your important story out to a wide audience.
But dead? No. Obsolete? No. In need of more thoughtful and strategic execution? Yes! At Kinetic, we believe releases are still a big part of our full-service offerings.
AN ESSENTIAL, EFFECTIVE TOOL
There are many reasons to share your good news (and sometimes the bad) with journalists and other communication professionals who in turn share it with their information consumers. If done well, press releases are extremely effective tools to connect with a wide audience.
Journalists appreciate receiving timely and accurate news on acquisitions, expansions, new products, personnel moves, awards and other developments. They have to feed the insatiable beast that is their news report, so they count on organizations’ press releases as one reliable source for content that readers are looking for.
Here are a few thoughts from Kinetic:
Ask yourself, is it news? It may be a big deal to you, but do you see your kind of information in the mainstream media? How likely is it that a news director or clerk will pause on your submission and get it into the pipeline? Ask yourself: Is this really a news item that people will talk about? Does it have wide appeal? Or is the info more appropriately placed in an advertisement? It’s better that you make that decision before you hit “send.”
Focus on the news. After all, this is a news release. This is not an internal memo or ad. Write it as a reporter might craft it. Don’t ramble on with marketing-speak. Make it easy for them to take your release and get it into their news report with minimal editing or rewriting.
Write for readers. Don’t stuff your release with searchable keywords. With SEO in mind, include search phrases that are easy to read – not technical jargon.
Write a strong headline. Grab the attention of a reader scrolling a news feed. Use active verbs as you summarize the news in a few well-chosen words. Don’t be cryptic or cutesy. What’s the news hook here?
Get to the point right away. As with headlines, get to the point in your release. Don’t back into it. The first paragraph should make it clear what the news story will be. If a reporter wants to take your news nugget and turn it into a longer, feature-style tale, so be it. But don’t bury the news in your release.
Keep it tight. Press releases for overburdened media outlets should be relatively short. Be realistic. Harried newspaper and TV newsroom staffers just don’t have time to review and boil down a two-page press release to a two-paragraph brief or short story. Remember, you are in control. Include the facts you want to highlight and introduce them right away.
Anticipate questions. If your release doesn’t answer the obvious questions, it may not make the cut. Not all newspeople have time to call you to get the essential details your failed to provide.
Offer quotes. If a comment from your CEO, lead attorney, IT director or sales manager will help you tell your story, include one in your release, thereby eliminating back-and-forth callbacks seeking a quote.
Add boilerplate: Briefly tell people about your organization at the end of each release. Including your website URL is a great idea for this fixture.
Provide contact information. Encourage members of the media to contact you for more information or interviews. Make yourself available and the coverage might grow.
Offer more. Attach appropriate photos to give media outlets some design elements they need to package with text. Provide links to additional content or background information on your website. Some journalists will include your links in their reports.
Have a good media list. Know who covers your industry and have current contact information. Update your list frequently as there’s a lot of turnover in the media these days. Add influencers, too.
Rock the subject line. Like your headlines, your subject lines need to capture the news in just a few words. Don’t tease or be coy. What’s the story on board?
Good news vs. bad news. It is never good to be playing catchup with your good news or bad news. You’ll always be on the defensive if someone gets your news out ahead of you, especially when the news isn’t positive. Be out front and upfront with news of plant closures, executive changes and not-so-positive developments. Be candid and control the narrative.
Identity check. Consider placing your logo atop the release to highlight your brand, which may carry more inherent news value in your community (big employer, community leader, etc.)
Utilize your channels. Do you have more to say? Post a longer version of your press release on the channels you own, such as your website. Link to your site from the news release, your Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and other social media channels.
More eyeballs, please. Be sure to closely proofreader your release before you launch. Sloppy editing undermines credibility of your organization and the report.
Did you get coverage? Who picked up your release? Check to see where your story appeared and if there were any comments attached. Respond as necessary. The best days to send are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., according to MediaUpdate. Email open rates are best on those days.
Press releases still serve a purpose to get your news to a wide audience on channels you don’t control. When you have newsy information to share, releases to the media still can bring valuable coverage that will benefit your brand image.