A press release is a standard format used to deliver news about a business or a person to the media in general. It contains a piece of information that journalists might find valuable so they can use it to write their own article or to prepare themselves for an interview.
This way, they are a highly valuable piece of marketing, as it can help you to promote your business, your products, and your brand. But to achieve this goal, it is important you have in mind that how to get the journalists to read your press release and to consider it as good starting point for a story.
Make sure you know what “newsworthy” means
Of course, your business is your baby and you think your product is the best in the world. And while this might be true, it doesn’t mean they are newsworthy. To something to be considered relevant enough so to be in a newspaper is mandatory it meets some requirements, such as these listed below:
- It has to be something new (timing)
- It affects the life of a significant number of people
- The people involved are considered as relevant to the society as a group or individually
- It is locally significant
- It is a breakthrough
- It touches people emotionally
- It informs about a conflict, scandal, or anything else that should be brought to light
These points above don’t have to be met all together, but more ticks you have, more likely the journalist in question will take your press release into consideration.
Get to know the media/journalist you are aiming
Another thing you have to take into account is to get to know the media to which you are going to send your press release very well. You have to read/watch it on a regular basis and find out which kind of stories and angles they prefer, so you can decide which topic you will be covering in your press release if any at all.
And you should do the same about the journalist you will address your press release. Read their articles, watch their comments, and make sure you only send to them something that they are inclined to write about.
This is something vital to understanding and the favourite mistake of a lazy PR. It is much easier to write just one press release and send it to a long list of journalists in one go, instead of writing a general press release and then adapting it to each journalist accordingly. But if you do it, it will increase your chances to be successful for sure.
And the terrifying consequence of not doing it isn’t having your press release completely ignored, but becoming infamous among the journalists – they talk to each other, as you can imagine, and usually have a mental list of sources that they only would contact at gunpoint. And those who send useless press releases to their already fully-packed inbox certainly are at the top of it.
Add valuable information
All you want is the journalist considers your press release as relevant means you should see it from their point of view. Journalists are busy people, constantly pressured by deadlines, and not always able to find available all information necessary to write a high-quality article.
So if you want your press release stands out, you will have to ensure it contains what they consider as valuable information, something that will prove the topic is newsworthy but also saves their time on research.
This way, it is always recommended to add the following elements to your press release:
- Statistics about your industry and your business
- Mini CV of the mentioned sources
- Timeline with relevant facts regarding your story (background)
- Quotes from your sources
Regarding images, it can be interesting to send one or two high-quality photos depending on the topic. But never send a lot of images that will just be a pain to download and open – you never know which kind of equipment and tools the journalist has available at that moment. So just let them know what you have to offer, or create a folder in a cloud service, so they can check it if and when they wish.
Offer reliable and exciting sources
Except in some cases, when your press release happens to be published exactly as you have sent it, the most likely is that the journalist will contact you so they can book an interview with your source. There is no story without quotes, and even if you have sent some, a seasoned journalist will want to talk to them directly.
Your press release needs to give the best impression about your sources. They need to sound exciting and reliable, as someone who has something relevant to say or with a fresh point of view. Your sources shouldn’t be just a name after the quotation mark, but a person who the journalist will want to chat and hear what they have to say.
When you don’t do it, it is possible one of the worst PR’s nightmares comes true: the journalist writes about your topic but use another source to illustrate it. And this can happen purely and simply because they tried to contact you or your source and got a busy tone. They were pressured by the deadline, and your topic would become old if they waited for another day, so they just called someone else and got it done.
You won’t even be able to get angry as you might need to contact the very same journalist for another story soon enough. So make sure your article is only done by contacting your source and nobody else.
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Make it easy to scan
Again on the topic, journalists are busy people, you should always write a press release that is easy to scan, and improves readiness. All you don’t want your work goes to waste just because they think it is too much hassle trying to find out what you want to say.
This way, when possible, create a format that is a blessing for the eyes, by using:
- Bullet points
- Short paragraphs and sentences
- Nice font style
- Compatible space between paragraphs
- Bold or italic (to emphasize relevant phrases)
Of course, you should always have the personality of the journalist in question in mind. Some of them are more conservative and will prefer a press release with text only. Others will like to see infographics and maps added to it. A catch-up content is the one engages its audience, not the one that meets the writer’s expectations.
In any case, aim for a one-page press release, or a bit more if the topic is really relevant. A press release is an invitation for an article, not the article itself, as you know.
Wrapping it up
A press release is one of the best marketing tools available if used wisely. With it, you can make the name of your company and your products part of the news, which adds value and increases sales.
But to achieve it, you will need to understand well how to grab the journalist’s attention, so they think your topic is newsworthy and your sources are relevant to them. And you will have to do your homework and personalize it as much as possible.
If you follow these simple rules above, you will be able to improve your results and to make more journalists interested in talking to your sources from now on.