In this busy world of multiple social channels and outlets, you may think that the press release has lost its relevance as part of a business marketing plan. But in this very noisy and fast-moving environment, a well-crafted press release can still make your company stand out and help you to access the editors and broadcasters who can create resonance for your brand.
To be effective, however, there are certain rules that your press release should follow.
The right audience
With so many publications and channels out there, both virtual and traditional, it is important to do your homework and research which are the most relevant for your company’s news. What are the publications/blogs/channels your customers use? There may be obvious choices that you know already. You may also want to do an internet search to find other publications or outlets. Take time to review their websites and, importantly, find out who is the right person to receive your content. If it is not clear from the website, get in touch and ask for the right name.
Keep it simple
Editors and journalists are busy people. Your press release must make their lives as simple as possible. In my former life as an editor, I received 150+ emailed press releases every day. In these circumstances a confusing or long email subject title can easily mean your press release is immediately consigned to the ‘deleted’ folder unread. So ensure your title explains its contents succinctly and accurately.
The personal touch
Once your recipient has clicked to open your emailed press release, ensure it is personalised to their name. If you receive mail addressed to you personally you are far more likely to read it; it shows them you have taken the trouble to research their name and starts to build a relationship with them that could be valuable over time. It shows you are professional in your approach and have taken the time to find out about them and their publication.
Keep it brief
Keep your introduction brief – introduce the topic succinctly, explain what (if anything) you have attached and ensure your contact details are included. Ensure that the text of the press release is pasted straight into the email. A busy journalist does not want the hassle of having to click an attachment to see what you are talking about. You can always attach it as well, but the objective is to make their lives simple and help them see your news as quickly as possible. You may wish to add a few key bullet points above the main body of the release so they can scan them and decide whether the rest is worth reading. If your topic is complicated, provide a straightforward summary and attach longer documents. If the summary is of interest, they will make the time to review the attachments. You may also want to add subheadings in bold in the press release for easier review. Ensure everything you send is clear and accurate, with a ‘Notes to editors’ section at the end giving details like the company background and/or further product information and contact details.
If you can, include a copyright-free image or other image that can be used with a citation (and state the source to be referenced). This may be a head-shot of someone from the company, an action shot of the activity mentioned in the press release, a product photo, or a mix of these. Photos should be of good quality and, ideally, of a resolution of 300dpi. If you have a media library of high resolution images on your website, direct the journalist to this with a simple, clickable link. Or send lower resolution samples with an offer to provide higher resolution ones on request. If you have a selection of images available, state this and ask them to contact you for more.
A good story
We all like a good story so ensure your press release is informative and interesting. From your previous research into the relevant publications and websites you will know what sort of news they publish. Do they like ‘people’ stories about new hires or promotions, event news, new product information, or in-depth interviews with industry innovators? Can you introduce a new team member and offer them for interview – or offer a feature about a relevant topic? Each has different criteria for different sections of the publication, so tailor your release to the person and section that will work best for you.
An ongoing content plan
One press release is not enough. To gain the greatest benefit from your efforts, compile a long-term content plan that will ensure you keep feeding your preferred media outlets with news on a rolling basis. Look ahead and note the events, products and services you will be developing over the coming year. What is newsworthy that you can communicate? What makes your company stand out from the rest? What are you doing differently? Why did you win that award? Ask different team members and departments for their input on what they are doing that would be of interest to your target audience.
Avoid the overtly promotional and talk about a problem facing your industry that you can address. If you come across as knowledgeable and confident, this will build trust with your customers and result in business for you. All of these ideas can be hosted on your own website, too, in a company blog. Regular posting of fresh content not only provides thought leadership that will interest your customers, but it is loved by search engines, too, helping your website to rank higher than competitors’ sites. And, of course, adding a social media marketing plan to your content will create even greater resonance across the web – but that is a topic for another blog … Have a look at the Blog section for more useful articles to help your business.
So, follow these guidelines to creating an effective press release and start to think about how you can share all the newsworthy activities your company is doing. Great content builds a great brand.
If you’d like help with your content planning, creation and dissemination, do get in touch.