The question comes around every so often: Is the press release dead?
It’s not, but you may be using it the wrong way, and that’s going to cost you coverage.
For many startups, a press release is the first foray into PR. It’s one of the most used PR strategies, but easily one of the most misunderstood. However, with just a few simple strategies, a press release can easily become a valuable tool in your PR belt. Whether your next big announcement is right around the corner, or you’re looking for more opportunities to leverage your story, these five tips will help you maximize media interest and breathe new life into your press release.
Start with Key Messaging
A press release is just one part of your overall communications and PR strategy. More importantly, it is an opportunity to share your story and key messaging with the media. Whether you’re announcing a product or service, new leadership, partnerships, or corporate expansions, bring the article back to your core message. The best way to do this is with a consistent boilerplate, the inclusion of keywords and phrases, and a focus on your mission, values, and vision.
Keep It Simple
A common mistake is to turn a press release into a marketing piece filled with industry jargon. However, the customer isn’t your target audience; the media is. Your goal is to share your information in a way that will grab a reporter’s attention and compel them to write a story. PR is not the place for sales talk and industry jargon.
Focus on the 5 “Ws” you learned in grade school: Who, What, When, Where, Why (and of course how). This is what reporters want to know and will help you drill down to your key points in easy-to-understand language.
Another common mistake is a long, overly wordy release. While you do want to communicate all the necessary information, you don’t need to share every single detail of a new product or service. In addition, the longer your release, the more you’ll pay to have it published.
Our most effective press releases are between 400 – 550 words. While some go a bit longer, we find that most press releases that cross 600 words are communicating too much information. Save some details for your press kit or for pitching. Speaking of pitching…
Start a Conversation
“If you build it they will come” applied to Field of Dreams, but it does not work with most press releases. Simply publishing your release isn’t enough to attract media attention (in most cases, anyway).
Before you publish your release, you can (and should) reach out to your target list of journalists to share a brief overview of your news under embargo. (Learn more about pitching here.) This way they have an idea of what news is coming down the pipeline and can plan accordingly. Remember, journalists also answer to editors and publication deadlines, so giving them general info ahead of time helps them decide if and when they’d like to cover your story. Once the press release is published, reach out again with a link to or copy of the published release, and offer additional info or interviews.
Do it Again
One press release is … well, one press release. It’s not a magic bullet that will immediately draw the media to you, but it is a start! The key is to keep the momentum going.
Planning multiple releases around key topics is a great strategy for boosting SEO, gaining online viability, and showing the media you’re serious about leading in your industry. It opens the door for ongoing conversations about your expertise and keeps your name top of mind for key media contacts. Not sure what to talk about? Here are four evergreen topics to keep the conversation going.