Press releases are so often seen as a magic pill for getting media exposure. While a well-written press release can get your business media coverage, there are hundreds and thousands of “well-written” press releases being dumped into recycling bins (or virtual trash bins) on an hourly basis by journalists everywhere.
The reasons for disposal are numerous but there are a few reasons that are worth noting so that you can increase your chances of getting a good press release into the hands of your target reporters and editors and out of the recycling bin.
- The Right Recipients: Make sure you do your research and target the right reporters for your story. All reporters are not the same and more importantly do not cover the same beat. If you’ve got a great release about a new app your company created for local high schools make sure you send it to the technology or education reporter not the reporter assigned to the crime beat! This kind of thing happens more frequently than you’d think and in a recent Cision surveys, reporters indicated that lack of knowledge about the topics they report on is a leading pet peeve when it comes to press releases.
- Headline News: Make sure the hot news angle is reflected in your headline – some reporters will not read past the headline if it doesn’t capture their attention and pique their interest. You can do that with a short headline (no more than 8 words) that makes it clear what the story will be about without boring the reader.
- Just the Facts: Good reporters are going to interview and research the story themselves to get the complete details they need for the story. Please remember that before you write a 2-page article about your “news” and then call it a press release. A press release is a “tool” to inform reporters that here’s something relevant to the beat they cover and of interest to media outlet’s audience. One page is usually sufficient to get that message across.
- Timing: Reporters are usually involved in editorial meetings early in the week, usually on a Monday morning. It is therefore good practice to get your release out BEFORE they meet with their editors to get a lay of the land of key stories for the week ahead. Monday morning, after 7:00 a.m. is an ideal time to get your press release into news rooms. Send via email or fax depending on the preference of your target reporter (do your research to confirm ahead of time).
- Sealing the Deal: One of the most crucial aspects of media relations is the follow-up call. I don’t mean multiple, irritating calls, but a well-timed call soon after you issue your early morning press release. If you get voice-mail, leave a brief message reiterating the key focus of the story (think in terms of how you can “help” the reporter to produce an interesting news piece). Once you get the reporter live on the phone, offer to provide any additional information he/she may need and make sure you’ve got someone available to do an interview.
Remember that issuing a press release is part of the media relations process and it should be an ongoing effort. To increase the chances of your press release being read, do what you can to make your release stand out from the crowd. Following the five tips listed above will help to keep your release from being tossed. It may take time but with consistency and attention to the relationship you are trying to build with the reporters in your niche, free media exposure is possible with a well executed release.
I’d say good luck, but getting free media exposure is more about being strategic, considerate and consistent than it is about having luck!