Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The power of the press release

As we discussed in a previous post, public relations should be an important part of your communications and marketing strategy. A foundation of any public relations plan is the press release (also known as a news release or media release).

As the name implies, this facet of public relations is designed to be distributed to members of the press, which today includes new media practitioners such as bloggers and podcasters. There are a few rules to keep in mind with regard to press releases:

  • Is it news? Be honest with yourself. If your release is locally, regionally, or nationally relevant, then send it out to news outlets. The news doesn't have to be earth-shattering; it can be about an upcoming community nonprofit fundraiser as long as people in the community will be interested. If your news is more of a niche, such as your business being recognized by a leader within your industry, target it more toward trade publications, blogs, and podcasters. 
  • When sending releases to publications and television, be sure to direct it to the appropriate reporter - the financial reporter doesn't want your release about the star quarterback. The chances of your story being picked up is much greater if you target it to the appropriate outlet and person. 
  • Along that vein, don't send news releases just to keep your name in front of the media. Believe me, reporters, bloggers and podcasters don't want their inboxes flooded any more than you do, and if you annoy them, they'll send your email directly to SPAM and your faxes right into the circular file. When planning to send, ask yourself, "Who is going to care about this?" If you can't answer that question, hold off on the release.
  • Especially in the case of bloggers and podcasters, do not send a press release in hopes of free advertising. Sometimes print and television media will devote space and airtime if you have a service or product to promote, but bloggers and podcasters have spent years building their audiences, and have gotten to the point where this is their livelihood, and a link to their blog from your website isn't going to pay their bills.
  • If possible, keep your release to one page. You want to craft it as a story - and I mean a story, not a complete article. Make it interesting, and make them want to know more. They may choose to edit and present what you send, so definitely include all of the pertinent information, but try to make them want to contact you for more information.
  • Be sure to include contact information - both phone and email, so the recipient can use his or her preferred method of contact. If you have an urgent release, say regarding an incoming natural disaster, and you have to send it at some random hour, make sure that your work phone and email are forwarded to an account you can access away from your desk. If they can't reach you for further information or clarification, they may broadcast the release as is (or how they interpret it), and that isn't your ideal scenario.
  • Make your title catchy. If your business has a very long name, shorten it so you can write something eye-catching with that real estate.
  • The people you send news releases to do a lot of reading and writing as part of the job. Proofread your releases - and even have someone else look them over - for spelling and/or grammatical errors, comprehensibility, and general quality. If you send releases that are loaded with errors, that tells the recipient that the content doesn't matter much to you, so why should they bother with it, either. A properly written release will also help reporters view you as a trusted resource.
If you don't have a public relations person on your team, you can always hire a firm to write a news release for you. To find out how Brockett Creative Group can help you with this, email or call us at 315-797-5088.

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