Over the last few years, technology has changed the way we live and do business. For organisations and in particular, public relations (PR) professionals, these include the way we communicate with members of the press. Thus, in this day and age, the question lies therein – is there value in writing a press release?
The answer is thankfully, YES.
According to PR Daily.com, “Sending press releases isn’t entirely a fruitless activity: Twenty-nine percent of U.S.-based reporters and 36 percent of non-U.S. based reporters said they “somewhat” rely on press releases and 16 percent of journalists globally use press releases but would prefer a different format.”
Despite the increasing phenomenon of social media marketing, one of the best old marketing tricks in the PR books is the rustic and trusted press release. They still serve a purpose in many organisations and is part of the big PR strategy and communication plan. Some of the benefits are:
- You have the power to set your story and convey the right messages about your brand.
- Provides a resource for your stakeholders to see your achievements and announcements on your website.
- It acts as a supplementary information when you do your media pitch.
However, the old format of writing press releases has to evolve to meet the needs of your busy reporters. Here are the five ways to produce an effective press release.
Include multimedia elements. Attach infographics, images, videos, audios and PDF documents in your releases. Be considerate not to jam their mailbox with huge attachments. Instead, provide a link for them to download the attachments via Google Drive or other applications. With the additional information, you are providing the journalist options to write your story than just pure text. They might write a story and provide a direct link to your video on your website or tweet your infographic on social media.
Engage a news distribution agency. Many organisations, especially small and medium enterprises, do not have the manpower, energy and time to collate the contact list of all the media outlets and their journalists. Besides, it can be tedious to keep up with the changes in the newsroom. Lose the headache and hire a PR agency or a news distribution agency to help distribute your press releases. These agencies take pride in building a solid database and have good partnerships with editors and journalists. With a small fraction of cost, you can get your news distributed to a wide list of media outlets. They also have a wider reach allowing your press releases to reach many media in many countries globally.
Engage with your media. While using a news distribution agency to issue your release is a great idea, do not stop there. Attach your news release on your social media channels too, and engage with the journalists online and offline. Gone are the days when you can expect coverage by just sending a press release via mass. You probably need a little more effort to feed your stories directly to the reporters. Don’t lose that chance!
Manage your word count. Go back to basics. Cut to the chase. On social media, people have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. If you are considering writing a 2000 word press release, think again. Cover the basic fundamentals. State the what, when, where, who, how and why in a succinct manner in less than 500 words, so that the journalists can get to the story angle quickly.
SEO is the way to go. SEO is huge in this decade. We cannot run away from the fact that a SEO press release will be more effective in getting your releases found on the search engines. So use them in your title, text, and body, but be careful not to overdo it.
As we move to a new decade, continue to make press release a significant part of your PR strategy. Regardless of the medium, readers still trust the press. Embrace technology and use it to your advantage. We can always find innovative ways to do things better. Consider the above tips and when used correctly; it can help boost your brand awareness.