Journalists, websites, and various organizations are swamped with press releases from businesses of all sizes day in and day out. It’s been happening time and time again since the first news release was sent out (about a train wreck) over 110 years ago.
Every one of those releases has had the same objective: to gain positive media attention and coverage. So how the heck do you, as a small business or entrepreneur, make your releases stand out and shine?
You can spend hours (or even days) carefully crafting each word in what you think is the perfect news release. Then, you distribute it and wait for the onslaught of phone calls, emails, and congrats that (unfortunately!) never come. Huh? What the…? Maybe there’s a good reason they’re ignoring your releases.
A PRNewser article from the Adweek Blog Network showed that journalists, “…received approximately 50 releases every week—and spent less than one minute reading each one he or she opened.” What really annoys them is:
- Releases that aren’t relevant to the beats/areas they cover
- Releases that aren’t relevant to their readers
- Bad writing releases
- Releases that go on too long without making a point
So, stop annoying people and deliver news content your target news sources want to use to fill space, airtime, and websites. To make your news releases stand out, simply follow these 9 terrific tips.
Keep it conversational…with a personality
Avoid lots of industry jargon, tech talk, or self-promotion. Write in the language and style of the people you want to reach. For example, if you’re writing for the lifestyle space, have some fun with the tone. Or if you’re targeting insurance publications, use their vernacular. And remember to stay away from B.S. superlatives, like “best ever,” “greatest,” and “amazing.” Above all, it should reflect your company’s brand personality, especially if that is quirky, amusing, or irreverent.
Keep it short but thorough
Your recipients are busy and don’t have the time to read a ton of content, so keep your news release to 250-300 words. Try to never send a press release that runs more than a page. (FYI…don’t cheat by minimizing margins and making the type smaller. That will make sure your release gets tossed.) Start with the basics, and make sure to include all necessary contact information (with a Twitter handle) and answers to the who, what, when, where, and why questions. Remember, you can link to pages on your website for details.
Customize your pitch by target media
Most U.S. media outlets—websites, newspapers, online magazines, blogs, TV and radio shows, etc.—have some particular focus or specialization. Even general interest media have specialized departments. So instead of issuing one blanket release, consider adapting pitches to individual media outlets. They don’t want to see what everyone else is seeing. They’re looking for something unique, exclusive, or interesting about your business that matches their targets, especially if you have a local or regional angle.
Feature a killer headline (subject line)
This is the best and quickest way to get attention. Make it punchy. Get creative. Make it unique. Even have a little fun. A good rule of thumb is to spend as much time crafting your headline as you do writing the release.
Include evidence points, data, and quotes
Writers and editors love releases that feature detailed, real-world, verifiable proof and data (preferable that your business generated itself) to support any claims being made. These kinds of facts make the release sound important and reliable (and not just bragging). Quotes are essential, too…include two or three. Insert the most important one right after the lead, and close with a strong one.
3Target social channels, too
A media outlet’s social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.) can be as valuable for your business as its printed or online pages. By offering images, videos, or tweets, you can improve your chances of getting coverage.
Be timely and newsworthy
For breaking announcements you need to have a press release in the journalist’s inbox within 30 minutes…or a few hours at the most. If you’re prepared, it’s possible to do this. Timing is everything…not too early or too late to be news.
Put yourself in their shoes
To gain clarity, ask yourself: What would make you read your own release? What makes this news?
Send it to the right people
It’s also important to personally deliver your news release to key media representatives. Who are those people? Newswire says, “They are journalists and media representatives in your industry and/or community who may be interested in your news and information. It can take time to identify and connect with them. However, the effort is well worth it.”
When it comes to press releases that get the attention your business deserves, turn to the experts. Give us a shout!