Top tips to get your press release noticed
I am often asked how to get your press release noticed and guarantee press coverage and my answer is always “can’t be done”.
What you can do, however, is shorten the odds by:
1. Making your press release interesting and engaging; and
2. Targeting it to the right place.
Journalists – especially those with daily (or even hourly) deadlines – work in a hectic environment and their attention span is short. You have about 5 seconds to catch their interest before they move on to the next lead. It helps to think of journalists as the toddlers of the professional world.
It’s not their fault, it’s just they are constantly bombarded with information from all sorts of sources and need to quickly sort the wheat from the chaff.
What this means is that not only does your press release need to have impeccable spelling and grammar – it needs “hook” in the first paragraph.
So forget the flowery language and the “drawing the reader in” that you would do if you were writing a creative piece, and get straight to the point.
At Uni, we learnt that this is called the “inverse pyramid” style of writing – the important information is up top and much of the rest is just padding. Start with the who, what, where, when, why and how, and then embellish. And remember, a press releases is not simply about promoting your product or service – it must have something newsworthy or it will be ignored.
A couple of other things about good press releases, and how to get them published:
1/ A press release is merely “bait”. Don’t put every single thought you’ve ever had about your business into them. Just the key points that will intrigue the journalist enough to go to your website or to give you a call and find out more.
2/ Make sure your name and phone number is at a prominent position at the end of the release so the journalist can contact you.
3/ Don’t send releases to the general email or fax address. Major news media get thousands of press releases every day; you don’t want yours to get lost. Make sure you are familiar with its style, and which journalist has what round. Never send a press release into the ether and cross your fingers. Find the journalist who writes about your subject matter, give them a call, and then send the release directly to them – maybe following it up in a day or so. Or, better still, send them to your community or suburban rag, which loves stories about locals succeeding at something.
4/ Find the “angle”. Journalists will probably not be interested in your paintings/photography/whatever as there are hundreds just like you out there. But if you’ve won a national award, or work in a non-traditional field, or even built a successful home-based business as a single mother raising four kids – there’s your story! I recently told a sculptor friend that she needed to sex up and drape herself across her huge metal creations for a photo opportunity. I was only half joking.
5/ Post your (optimised) press release as a PDF on your site, and share via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels. This will also help Google notice your release (and your website).
5/ Sign up to SourceBottle and/or HARO (Help a reporter out). These are great sites where journalists post “call-outs” to people in order to interview them for a story or feature. I have had a few leads myself out of both those great sites (that I wish existed when I was a journo!)
No matter what you do (or what you pay someone else to do on your behalf), there’s no guarantee that sending a press release will result in media attention. If you want guarantees, buy advertising space.
But you can reduce the odds (and, in the interests of self-promotion, it does help to have someone that knows the ropes write the release for you, or at least fine-tune your words).
‘Til next time