The right public relations professional can get your brand the publicity you need, but you can save time, money and control your message if you write your own press releases.
A great press release can cut through the clutter in a journalist’s inbox and convince him that he needs to cover what you have to say. A press release can get your company featured in blogs, newspapers, magazines or on television. And that visibility can mean more clients.
So how can you go about writing a the press release that will get you noticed? Here are a few tips.
Journalists are inundated with press releases and, yes, the subject of the email makes a difference if they read on. Journalists are on specific beats, so if the topic isn’t in their area of coverage, they will likely send the message straight to the trash. Your job is to make the pitch relevant to their coverage.
Offer up the most tantalizing element of your pitch in the subject line, but don’t be misleading. If you do a bait-and-switch, journalists won’t trust you. If you’re targeting only a select number of writers and news producers, consider tailoring your pitch to meet their needs. Media that focus on local issues may appreciate that you are a local business person. Industry-specific publications may need you to cater to that angle. If you hit their beat, you’re more likely to see a response.
Keep it Concise
Don’t bury your message in a long narrative. Start with the “news,” which means whatever is new and exciting about what you or your business has to offer.
Maybe it’s an acquisition, perhaps your company is doing something for charity, or maybe you’re touting your first book on entrepreneurship. Get that message out in the first paragraph, then back it up with the details surrounding your brand.
Keep your release to one page. No one wants to read your company’s long-winded story about what inspired you to start the business. If a journalist is curious, they’ll ask. If you want to provide more background info, send a few links to your work.
Data and Quotes
Journalists work hard, so anything you can do to make their stories easier to write makes them more likely to give you coverage. Provide them with infographics, surprising statistics and quotes they can copy and paste into the body of their story.
Don’t Forget Your Contact Info
In the digital age, journalists turn stories around fast. Some may work from the press release, some want to do a deeper dive with original quotes, so they need to get in touch quickly.
Know ahead of time which day you’ll be sending out the release and make yourself, your PR team and any relevant staffers available for calls for at least a few hours after the release goes out. There’s nothing more frustrating to a journalist than trying to verify information before a deadline only to get your voicemail.
Watch Your Grammar
This should go without saying, but read your release multiple times and hand it to your favorite grammar nerd to read it over again. Journalists have the AP Style guide memorized and judge people harshly who make silly grammatical errors. If you want to be taken seriously, check your work.