6 ideas for press releases that work
Are you aware that journalists receive hundreds of press releases each day… and almost none are opened? In some cases, journalists are tricky and use another email address to filter junk and unsolicited news, but the truth is that often the content is not targeted and seems like “spam”.
We have all already heard or read somewhere that “The press release is dead”. In today’s social media world, and with new technologies available to communicators, many companies seem to have given up on the old-fashioned press-release model for more interactive ways to spread the news like blogs, Twitter feeds or social newsrooms. Sometimes they don’t even need to rely on journalists to tell their story, because they have lots of channels they can use to share stories directly with their target audience.
The bottom line is that you need to think of the press release as part of your overall PR strategy. Then, it can be a great and valuable addition to what you’re already doing for your PR. Having hard facts, quotes or accurate data around your news or product in the form of a press release makes it easy for journalists and bloggers to get all the details they need in one place. The fact is that press release will never really die as long as journalistic media exist.
Having said this, how to get your news seen? Here are a few ideas for attention-grabbing and effective press releases…
Idea 1: Make Sure It’s worth reading
Headlines matter. Take time to choose a good title. You must make sure to offer something unique, relevant and newsworthy. It’s not about how great you think your company or product is, but how you can help your audiences by delivering some insightful information. Also, your press release really needs to be different from any other way of spreading your messages in order to be picked up by the news media: it should be short and appealing, but should also provide all of the details needed.
Idea 2: Give the floor to the experts
Use your brand’s expertise without being sales driven: instead of using generic quotations such as “We are very pleased to announce…”, let the experts have a voice. Have them tell what this means for your business and for your customers. We all know that there is nothing like hearing it from the expert's mouth. They have a depth of knowledge that will make journalists and influencers listen. So, organise “in person” interviews, capture their “own” words, tone and point of view, have something memorable to say, and keep it short.
Idea 3: Use social media like a rockstar
Journalists are spending more and more time on social media. So, don’t forget to share all your press releases on social networks. Not only that, but this creates more places for people to be introduced to your brand and for social influencers to spread the word. First, make sure your social post title is extremely interesting. Then, break up your press release so that the full message isn’t revealed instantly, to entice network users to click to read more.
It also needs to be available on social media in the formats your audience loves: use images on Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram, have a video format for Vine... Journalists and bloggers can also be influenced by the comments your audience is making and how they react.
Idea 4: Don’t spam journalists, surprise them
If you have collected email addresses of bloggers, journalists and news agencies, don’t mass distribute: as a result, you could just be blacklisted forever… If you really want to get attention for your press release, you’d better to be creative!
Surprise them with original PR campaigns that can make your brand, business or event newsworthy. For example, CAA/Edelman just won Cannes Lions PR Grand Prix for a Chipotle’s campaign thanks to an unbranded short-form film, successful gamification and a pretty dedicated website  that preceded the press release. But don’t go too far as Ubisoft a few days ago…! ☺
Idea 5: Act in real time
Your reputation is on the line. Media outlets are asking for details. There’s nothing worse than a PR team that is absent and not responding to a crisis. Whatever the emergency, the only way to react on time is to be prepared: you should update media contact lists regularly; identify subject-matter experts willing to collaborate; prepare question-and-answer sheets and other supplementary materials for potential scenarios.
Also, don’t miss the newest trend in press release distribution: newsjacking! Write an attention grabbing news release that strongly references a breaking news story. The best results come when you put it in front of the media fast…
Idea 6: Look beyond Google
Build your journalist or blogger relationships before you need them. Take time to know their recent coverage and understand their niche before getting in touch. You need to show interest in the people you contact. Keep in mind their needs, their audience, and how you could support them in preparing their articles. A best-practice is to provide the html code for an image or a video, so that the blogger or journalist can easily publish them. You should also send plain text releases so that they can easily copy and paste. It depends on the media outlet and on the person entirely.