The Essentials of an Effective Press Release Media Strategy
This age-old method of simultaneously marketing and storytelling has enduring power.
It is a noisy digital world out there, but there are many ways to stand out — an often overlooked one press coverage. Your brand might well be a compelling news story that needs telling, and audiences are ever hungry for that brand of content. The right venue might be a small media outlet or a big network (ideally a progression from the former to latter), but the more your story is told, the more you attract new clicks, store visits and sales. Let's also not forget that getting good press coverage is perfect for search engine optimization — you will be more discoverable on search engines, helping boost web traffic, a client list and the bottom line.
Press releases are not written with company webpage placement in mind, of course, but they can still be posted on your site (on your "In the News" page, etc). Their purpose is drawing the attention of those who report the news (print, broadcast and online). With that goal as a focus, keep in mind that press releases are usually shorter than typical feature articles, and focus primarily on facts, though they should also include some quotes. A release is a concise overview of the story you want to tell, plus essential company mission identifiers (often at the end). As far as disseminating them is concerned, the best place to start might be with your local city or town news (if chain owned, they might get kicked up to broader company feeds), then to national and even international media if you feel there is a bigger interest.
Related: 30 Reasons to Write a Press Release
Effective use of a press release
The art and craft of release creation revolves around both imparting facts yet weaving a tale. You don't want to include any superfluous information on anything other than the main topic (such as the mention of past revenues if the story is about a new product launch). This "just the facts" discipline helps you stay focused; after all, these are designed to plug-and-play into newspapers, websites, magazines and broadcast outlets. Of course, this does not mean the writing should not have style, voice, or the other indelibles that set good copy apart from the scores of other releases that arrive in newsrooms and reporters' inboxes daily. If you are the first-of-a-kind-product on the market, by all means express this with passion. If your product or service will help make consumers lives simpler or safer, then say it…creatively. Such news relies on facts, however, so quantify and qualify claims.
Tell a great story
There are many far too many companies innocently guilty of sending out press releases that have zero chance of attracting reporters and consumer interest. Let's say, for example, that you have a new clothing line. Don't just focus on that, but also on how you pivoted and began a new and innovative approach during a pandemic, perhaps, then speak to your motivation in creating your company in the first place. Is that novel clothing line themed on a movement? Are you out to create a new style trend for? Does that line apply high-end manufacturing methods, but won't break the bank? Ask yourself some important questions about what makes your story truly unique.
Writing a good release can be difficult if you're not used to the process, and the best way to improve writing skills is simply to sit down and write them…usually a number of versions of each. If your brand announces something seemingly unrelated to products (say, a new HR effort or emphasis on inclusion), create a release. Another might be if you have opened a second location or relocated. The trick is to write frequently, get feedback from business colleagues, reporters and editors and then keep pushing news out on a weekly basis. The more persistent you are, the more trust you build with news teams, opening the door for ongoing coverage.
Suppose your company is organizing a special event and you want to spread the news, but are unknown outside of the immediate city or town. Consider utilizing a quote from someone the general public knows broadly, so that outlets will be more inclined to cover the story. Testimonials work wonders. Perhaps that notable person is able to talk about how terrific it's been to work with you and all the plans that have come to reality since they became connected with your company. Even better, that person may want to talk about the benefits of your app, product or service. Including quotes from prominent individuals will help burnish material by both diversifying it as well as broadening its appeal.
Give the media the goods
In order to really get news told in the mass media, you need to keep in mind how busy a reporter's day is and how many pitches they get during a single shift. This is why it's vital that content be newsworthy; make sure you're presenting a piece of quality news and not simply additives. Incorporate data, images, quotes, videos and other assets, if possible, to sweeten the deal. Also of vital importance is to triple-check spelling and grammar.
Networking your news
Press releases are important, to be sure, but so is community building. So, stand out amid the pitch blizzard by picking up the phone and actually speaking to a reporter. Follow-ups on the phone, via email, text and social media allow you to build relationships. Once writers and editors get to know and trust you, a massive obstacle is removed. Additionally, there are no shortage of press clubs, particularly in big cities, so join up and attend any special events they host. The result might not be getting all your press releases covered, but will certainly be increasing your chances, as well as being considered for inclusion in compendium pieces — say on up-and-coming business leaders of tomorrow.
Every outlet is important
Of course, the golden ticket is a story being featured on a big network. Certainly, landing on the national TV news or in a large newspaper or magazine is a feather in your cap, but keep in mind that every media outlet is important. Send your press release to as many as possible, including "ma and pa" and colleague blogs. The more people are talking about your product or service, the more you're discoverable. Another way to get word out is via newswire services (Newswire.com and Prnewswire.com among them), which often allow you to post press releases accompanied by images, videos and links. Pricing ranges from $50 (USD) to over $1,000, so pick a package that suits your budget.
There is a story in everything — so find it, share it and grow!
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