“We want to send a press release” – that was the opening line in a conversation I had recently with someone. My first question was “why?”.
There’s a huge assumption that if you want to communicate with, and to, the press then the press release is the way to do it. Wrong. It might be useful in some instances but don’t make the assumption that it’s the only way to get your messages across.
There’s a case for using a press releases but it shouldn’t be the only tool you use or the one you turn to automatically.
The chat I had this week was with someone who wanted to get their messages across on the back of an article that appeared in the Daily Mail online. The article focused on a well known personality who was studying for a health related qualification. The person I spoke to was annoyed at some of the language used in the article to describe people who were studying for the qualification and they wanted to set the record straight.
Now, the first thing to do in this instance is to take a deep breath and take the emotion out of the situation. When you see something in the press and media that really irks you then an instant response is not the way to go. And, a press release in this specific example is the wrong tool to use.
If you think a press release is the right tool to use in any situation then test it before it goes out the door. If it doesn”t pass all seven tests below then throw it in the bin. Because, if you do send it out then the journalist will just chuck it in the bin anyway. So, don’t waste your time or effort – you’ll just become disillusioned and frustrated and that’s no good for anyone.
7 reasons to throw to your press release in the bin
If your press release doesn’t pass all seven tests then seriously consider whether you should send it out.
1. Has a ‘hook’ – a ‘hook’ is a reason for the story. Often the ‘hook’ is that something has just happened. News’ is called ‘news’ for a reason and the purpose of a press release, also called a news release, is often to announce something that is new, has just happened, has currency. So, ask yourself – ‘what’s new, what is the news?’ what is the reason for the story and check to see whether that has been captured in your press release. You can also create a ‘hook’, or reason, for your story – carrying out research or marking an anniversary are two examples. Always question the reason for your press release. If it’s just to say how fabulous you are then that just won’t cut it.
2. Human interest – the ‘people’ aspect of a story is key and it’s one of the major elements that journalists look for in a press release -that it hits the media ‘hot spot’. So, you need to be clear about how your story impacts on ‘people’. This is a good way to steer away from balatant self promotion. Focus on the benefits that your news will bring. And, if you can’t think of any benefits then go back to the drawing board and have another think. Just announcing you have created a new widget is not enough – you need to show the significance of that widget, the benefits it will bring. Likewise, sending out a press release about a new website is not enough, that is not of interest. You need to demonstrate the difference it will make to people’s lives.
3. The right ingredients – there are many ingredients that journalists look for in a news story and your job is to give them as many of the right ingredients as possible that work for your news story. So, some of the ingredients that appeal to journalists, for example, are: research; money, extremes, something unusual, trends, something that is a ‘first’, that is it timely. Check that your news story has human interest but also other ingredients that journalists will be looking for. If it doesn’t then go back and have another think.
4. Well sourced and accurate – journalists need to be clear that what you have given them will stand up to scrutiny. I was reading about some research the other day about the way people access news media. At the end of the piece there was an additional note that made an apology because of a number of inaccuracies in the original press release. Now, don’t get me wrong – inaccuracies may well get reported because the journalist has put trust in you but you really don’t want to be sending out stuff that doesn’t come up to the mark. That just damages your relationship with the media and ensures they won’t touch any future news story. So, double check everything, particularly when it comes to reporting on research.
5. Relevant – this is one of the biggest issues for a journalist, that they get so much stuff through that just isn’t relevant, or interesting, for their audience. Research will take you a long way – it ensures that your story is tailored for the audience the journalist is writing for. You may have a single news story but you will need to tailor it for the different elements of the press and media to make it as appealing and relevant as possible.
6. Targeted – there can be a huge temptation to put together a press release and then chuck it out to as many contacts as possible. A press release out to 2,000 or so contacts may get you some coverage but it’s a lazy approach and one that will damage your reputation rather than enhance it. You want to build relations with journalists, not destroy them before they’ve even got going. Think about it, offering photographs to a radio station just looks sloppy.
7. Is the right tool for the job – rather than thinking about what you want to get out to the media start from the other way around. Think about what you want to achieve and where you want to be seen. For those target press and media outlets the press release may well be the wrong tool. If they don’t run news sections then you are wasting your effort. But, if they run opinion pieces, question and answer columns or ‘my story’ pieces then these may be better opportunities for you to get your ideas and story across. So, a straight press release is not necessarily the right tool. It may well be much better to email in your idea and explain how it fits with one of those other regular sections they run. For more on this check out: how to get featured in the press and media – no press release required.
In a nutshell: Don’t assume the press release is the only way to get your message across to the media, it’s not. In fact, other ways can be easier, quicker and much more effective. But, if you do think a press release is the rtight tool then ensure it passes essential tests before you send it off.
What success have you had with press releases?
Finding the right media contacts who will be interested in you, and how to get them interested, is a key part of your PR. If you want ideas on where to go to find those media contacts who will want to hear from you, and other ways to get more media visibility for your business, then check out this (it’s free): 7 quick and easy ways to get media visibility.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Throw Your Press Release in the Bin – Here’s Why
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