- Start with the End in Mind
A news release needs to be newsworthy. Nobody is interested in “Dog bites man!” but “Man bites dog!” is a different story. How is your story relevant to the target audience? Relative to all the other news that your target audience will see, how big is your story? News events can conspire against you so be aware of what else is happening that might unintentionally drown your story.
- The Headline
The headline shouldn’t be some cheesy click bait ending in ”..you won’t believe what happens next!” Your headline needs to be a balance. Informative enough to convey the topic yet ambiguous enough to draw the reader in to discover more by reading the release. If this is a trade press release, then the journalist may simply copy paste the headline you created. However, a larger publication will want to write their headline because they obviously don’t want the same headline as their competition.
- Expert Opinion
Find someone who is recognized as a subject matter expert to supply a comment or observation; this will add credibility your story. The more independent they are, the more their opinion will carry weight. Paying for this type of comment is a mistake – I don’t have to tell you why.
What do journalists look for in a press release?
- Supporting facts… 65%
- Interesting story angles… 62%
- Trending industry topic… 53%
- Powerful quotes… 23%
- Attention-grabbing headline… 30%
- Engaging multimedia… 17%
Source: Business Wire
- Images and Video
Visuals cause a faster and stronger reaction than words. They help readers engage with the content, and such emotional reactions have a favorable influence on information retention. This is because the visual memory is encoded in the medial temporal lobe of the brain, the same place where emotions are processed.
- Search Engine Optimization
The good news is that search engine algorithms have become quite sophisticated. What this means is that you simply have to write in a natural way and no longer concern yourself with metrics such as keyword density. Authentic curated content is how we refer to this in the trade.
- Now What?
Having gained the reader’s attention via your authentic content, which may be informative or entertaining, perhaps a blend of the two, now what? What do we want readers to do? Is there a specific call to action? Choose a single call to action for each press release, otherwise, you will confuse readers and make evaluating the outcomes challenging. If your release is about the launch of your new Dongle your call to action might be
- Click here to preorder your Dongle
- Sign up for Dongle updates
- Click here to read Dongle reviews
Decide on one, and only one, call to action.
- Close Encounters
Your press release will be going to numerous journalists/bloggers/influencers and media specialists.
Some will simply copy paste what you sent into their newsfeed, either because they are swamped, or don’t care or most likely the process is automated. Yes – your press release will show up in an online search under – Fox12 News in Milwaukee!
However, the more discerning journalists and opinion leaders may well want to ask questions or gain direct access to the people who are quoted in your release. You need to make this as easy as possible. Names, phone numbers, email, social media – all the usual suspects. Make sure the people named as media contacts are thoroughly briefed, going to available and think about time zone differences and language skills as appropriate.
- Social Media Channels
Make certain that whoever manages your social media channels (Blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) has access to the release including any images ahead of time this will be greatly appreciated. Plus when all the channels fire simultaneously there is a synergy to your efforts. Let’s not forget that employees who are active on social media integral part of issuing your press release.
- Pitch to the Right People
The top two methods through which journalists prefer to receive breaking news have remained relatively unchanged.
- The majority prefer an email alert with a link to a full press release (74%)
- Less popular is a newswire press release (21%).
(Note: 75% of newswire journalists (Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France prefer a newswire press release.)
- Measure to Manage
It’s an old management adage that managers tend to manage what they can measure. To manage your media efforts effectively you will need to measure the performance of your press release. The good news is that there are tools to help you do this and if you don’t have them then your friendly PR agency will have access to them and can use them on your behalf. By accumulating this data over time and comparing the performance of different releases you will gain some interesting insights. Insights that are unique to your organization are of course the most valuable.