Press Release Pointers
The publicist’s bread and butter used to be the press release. We wrote them, we mailed them, we faxed them, and for a while, we emailed them. Then we pitched the ink out of them. Now with shrinking news rooms, online media, and 24-7 news cycles, so much of how public relations professionals approach press releases has changed.
I’m going to be honest with you: I don’t write a lot of press releases these days. I can probably count on two hands all the ones I’ve written in the past six years. But I have a pro bono client who needs a whole lot of press releases so I had to bone up.
What I am finding is that press releases are still relevant and have an important place in most organizations’ public relations plans. What are some of the best ways to use a press release? Perhaps we should talk about how NOT to use them. Most publicists I have talked to concur that sending press releases without preamble to massive contact lists of reporters, then following up with pitch calls, is no longer the way to go. Reporters say they are inundated with email. Those messages just get lost. So, how can you leverage your next press release?
How To Use a Press Release to Get Results
- Publicists are sending highly targeted, time-sensitive media alerts and press releases to their carefully cultivated media contacts, but on a very selective basis. Then they are placing them online, with social sharing features.
- Remember to carefully research editorial calendars and reporter beats before approaching a reporter (with or without a press release) about a potential story.
- Send press releases to a reporter who in the course of conversation, requests more information, or specifically asks for a press release. In a sense, you are bringing the press release later into the dialogue, instead of beginning with it.
- There are always a few reporters who still swear by, and say they want to receive press releases, by email.
- Upload press releases to the website’s online news room, and repurpose them as blog posts and email newsletter articles.
- Press releases aren’t just for reporters! Send press releases to partner organizations, trade associations, chambers of commerce, legislative assistants, and think tanks (depending on topic, of course).
- Use press releases as background information when booking guests on podcasts, radio shows, and broadcast news programs.
- Be sure to include your organization’s social media links (Facebook Page, Twitter account, YouTube Channel, etc.) in the press release.
Press Release Resources
- Read 4 tips for writing effective press release headlines.
- Learn the science behind timing the distribution of your press release.
- Send the press release by news wire. You can now send press releases directly from your WordPress blog via PR Newswire for $89 per release.
- Check out PR Newswire’s Nonprofit Tool Kit, which includes press release templates and samples.
- Read this post by Jonathan Rick on how to make your press release more appealing to journalists.
- Learn some new tricks for adding visual appeal to your press releases to make them more shareable.
- On a tight budget? Try Free Press Release.com
Ideas for Press Release Topics
All content should be timely, relevant, interesting, useful, and informative. Think about the benefits of the information to the user, and frame the information in that context. Remember, photos and video help tell the story, and garner three times more reads than releases without visual media. Here are just a few ideas for your next press release.
- Any topic related to the news of the day that adds another angle to the story.
- A new and innovative product or service line.
- Compelling results of research: studies, surveys and polls.
- Helpful, timely (and seasonal, when appropriate) tips.
- Educational events and seminars.
- How to avoid scams and fraud associated with your industry.
- Work with interns, students, or community service.
What tips or press release topics would you add?
- How to Write an Excellent Press Release (noobpreneur.com)
- Online Press Releases Dramatically Help Build Brand Awareness (epiphanysolutions.co.uk)
- Media Relations Gone Wrong: How Not to Pitch a Journalist (Video) (adamsherk.com)
- Burning Up in Press Release Hell (ereleases.com)