The dawn of the digital era has lowered the bar for brands with something to shout about. Previously, press releases were the domain of big companies with significant marketing budgets and agencies on-side. However, online repositories mean that virtually anyone can publish a release with ease these days.
Unfortunately, this has led to journalists being inundated with a daily deluge of releases in their inboxes and generated stiff competition for their attention. Having experienced both sides of the fence, in this guide I’ll give you the low down on how to make your release garner the attention it deserves.
# 1. Write with targets in mind
The first step in crafting a release – whether in-house or with the help of an agency – is to create it from the ground up with your targets firmly at the front of your mind. This applies to both your target audience and the publications you’ll be approaching with the finished piece. Apply some empathy, add interest and restrict yourself from veering towards advertising-style copy.
# 2. Bypass bland babble
One common problem with press releases, and especially those produced in-house, is that the newsworthy elements are drowned out or overwhelmed by promotional prose.
Journalists have a mandate to write an interesting article, so you have to be realistic about the type of publicity this method will generate. One good exercise is to compare an original release to the finished article. You’ll undoubtedly see that the vast majority of superfluous information is jettisoned in favour of the key facts.
Creating an interesting release will make it much more likely to be used and seen by more people – even if you can’t shout about your product or services for nine paragraphs.
# 3. Topical affair
Keeping newsworthiness in mind will also be a boon when it comes time to single out a subject for your release. While a new hiring, promotion or product might be big news within your company – it’s unlikely to garner much interest.
That’s not to say you can’t use stuff in this vein however, just make sure you approach it in a way that will appeal to your target audience. For instance, taking on new staff from the local area could be tackled with a view towards stimulating the local economy – which would make a great story for regional publications. Similarly, a promotion or competition run in an interesting way will almost certainly be more exciting than simply offering 50 per cent off something in January.
You can break down the types of topic you’ll be using into three main types – thought leadership, growth and expansion, and promotions. But within these fields, you’ve got a lot of leeway, so think outside the box and get creative.
Chase it up (within reason)
Once you’re ready to distribute your release, it’s well worth chasing it up with the publications and journalists you’re targeting. However, you shouldn’t take this as a license to pester them – simply get in touch and see how useful it is, whether there’s anything you can add or change, or perhaps offer follow-up comments on the issue at hand.
Creating a press release shouldn’t be a box-ticking activity and by approaching the task empirically and methodically, you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of the competition – especially those abiding by outdated conventions and producing monotonous material.
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