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Things to think about…when creating a press release

by | 11 Jul, 2019 | Process

Sitting down at their desk and sipping from a freshly brewed mug of coffee, journalists open their inboxes to find over 300 emails waiting for them. This happens every morning. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that they’ll spend less than one minute reading your story – and that’s assuming that your pitch hasn’t been placed directly into the dreaded ‘Deleted Items’ folder.

If you want to experience the ultimate win of seeing your story in print, you need to put effort into crafting and pitching it right. Our template is the ideal place to start…

  1. Is the story newsworthy?
  2. Make sure your press release has the right structure
  3. Craft your introductory pitch to the journalist/editor
  4. Create your distribution list
  5. Send your press release
  6. Follow up
  7. Track your coverage
  8. Share the results

Is the story newsworthy?

It may sound ridiculous, but it’s a simple question that’s often overlooked. 

Your story has to matter TO THE PERSON READING IT – not you. So think about what value it’s going to provide to your audience. 

If you can’t state the value, scrap it – sending it to a journalist/editor is only going to damage your reputation with them. Alternatively, consider whether there’s an interesting angle to cover…

  • Stories about general new hires aren’t that interesting…but if you’ve suddenly hired 20 new graduates, that demonstrates there’s something special happening at the organisation and makes people want to find out more.
  • Stories about award wins aren’t that interesting…but the client story behind the award, the reason you were considered to be ‘the best’, will be of interest.

Make sure your press release has the right structure

  • Headline: make it attention-grabbing.
  • Summary: provide an overview of the who? what? when? where? why? how?
  • Introduction: set the context.
  • Detail: why this story is important/interesting/relevant/significant.
  • Quotes: establish credibility and add life to the story.
  • Additional details: is there anything else to include, such as a link to register for something? 
  • Contact details: who the journalist should contact for interviews/more information.

Photos: of the people quoted, the product (if applicable) and anything else that’s relevant and interesting.

Craft your introductory pitch to the journalist/editor

Your press release isn’t enough. In an inbox of over 300 pitches, you need to stand out to get your story read:

  • Killer subjectline: 5-7 words that cover the most compelling part of the story.
  • Keep it short: 4-6 sentences is enough.
  • Make it personal: make the journalist/editor feel like you’ve only sent this story for their publication.
  • Provide detail: share the who, what, when, where, why, how.

Give them everything they need: the story, the photos, an exclusive…

Create your distribution list

Research the publications your target audiences actually read so you’re not wasting your efforts. Then create your list either:

  • Manually: this is time-intensive but might be worth the effort if you’re only looking to develop a few meaningful relationships with key journalists.
  • Subscribing to a media database: this is a more costly option, but it gives you quick, easy access to a comprehensive list with personal contact details and forward-features.

Outsource to an agency: PR agencies exist for a reason – they will already have established relationships with the journalists you want to talk to, so consider finding the right one to help you.

Send your press release

If you choose to distribute the press release yourself, the primary way to do this is through email, using your introductory pitch.

In addition, you could look to distribute your story via a Presswire; many journalists choose to monitor these for interesting news rather than sift through the barrage of emails that await them every morning.

And of course, social media is becoming an increasingly popular way to get your story out to the wider world. Plus, you can engage the journalists directly if they have a profile on your chosen platform(s), and again, it skips the inbox.

Follow up

You don’t need to follow up to check whether the journalist/editor received your story (they did). 

This is about following up with a select number of your tier 1 publications to offer them something a little extra, to hopefully increase your story’s chances of gaining coverage. Think about the ‘exclusives’ you can offer:

  • Can you give them an interview with someone amazing?
  • Can you provide editorial that elaborates on an aspect of the release in more detail?
  • Depending on the subject matter of the release, can you invite them to see the product in action, attend an event where your spokesperson is on the mainstage, or share a client story?

Track your coverage

There are many ways to track the effectiveness of your PR activities. The metrics you use should match your pre-determined measures of success.

Share the results

  • Formally: with the leadership team.
  • Informally: with the rest of the business – they’ll feel proud to see the company they work for splashed across the press.

And the rest of the world: use social media to promote your success and drive your target audience to see your name in print.

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