More than a press release – a blend of activity will see a much bigger impact

Following my theme of helping small businesses right now, I’ve seen a rise in people asking about how to write a press release.

As per a previous post, you’ve got more of an opportunity to be in control of your own content. However, if you know of local journalists who are looking for local stories, or a press release is one part of your plan, then here’s my suggested approach for you.

Considerations of writing a press release

  • Who is your audience and what papers or media do they read, and where? This will determine a) where you target and b) the tone/type of information you send in your press releases
  • Build a media list of the target media – whether it’s editors, writers, freelance writers, chief reporters, feature writers etc – anyone relevant. You can try by Googling the publication, first. PR pros can use the likes of Vuelio, Cision or Response Source to do this type of job for them, but it’s subscription based (and it’s not cheap!). They also distribute the news, too.
  • Start off with drafting a pitch email- think of it like an elevator pitch. What does it include? Keep it short and sweet. Think of Who, Where, What, When and Why as your questions to answer when writing.
  • A press release is made up of
    1. headline, needs to be catchy,
    2. intro para with all the main facts in it,
    3. then support with a quote from you about the news – if you use your pitch email, it should be easier.

You can Google ‘press release template’ if you need to see some examples. Just a word of caution, don’t expect it to be written exactly as you have submitted it. Editors change the content.

Additional things to include in a press release

  • If the story is for ‘immediate release’ then say so in your release, but if it’s to be held until a specific date and time, you need to write this very clearly at the top of the release.
  • Always have a nice image to support the story – it needs to be high resolution for print. If you have a short video, even better, send them the link to that, too
  • Include your company background document from your press kit which also includes your biography
  • Consider the time you’re sending the pitch email and release. Journalists will be in news conference 2-3 times a day
  • You can call to pre-pitch the story but many journalists don’t have time – it will be media outlet dependent
  • Make sure you’re being targeted with your release and the media you are speaking to
  • Include in the notes to editors, a website link for more information, your social media handles, who to contact for media enquiries, links to anything relevant e.g. more videos or research and who is available for a quote

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get anywhere. The media landscape has not only changed dramatically due to tech, social media and fake news, but journalists are in demand but few in supply.

An integrated approach will get maximum impact 

If you are going to go ahead with a news release, then I also suggest my integrated approach is much more effective. Follow these next steps, too:

  1. Publish your news on your website, the same day it goes live to the media.
  2. Use your website link to send out on your social channels, telling people about your news and how to find out more/help/support/donate or whatever the call to action is.
  3. If you see you’re getting traction on one particular channel, then pay to promote the post to a targeted audience – an audience predetermined when you were writing the press release.
  4. Keep talking about it on social media and sharing the assets – photography, video, infographic etc. The more you have to share, the more interesting and supported your story becomes.
  5. Ask people to share your story for you, on their channels. Ask people to RT in tweets.

This is all part of the PESO model and you can better demonstrate the impact of your PR as you’ll have statistics on sharing, reach, clicks, then the stats on your website to prove it, then hopefully sales/donations to whatever it was you were asking people to do.

I hope this has helped you. Please do share with other people so they too may understand firstly, how public relations has moved on and secondly, how to make the most of news or a good story.