September 21st, 2016
Press releases are a core element of any PR campaign. The information you provide — whether about an upcoming product release or leadership change — is used by reporters, bloggers, and journalists to spread the word to their readers. Of course, some topics are more important than others: this is why it is important to evaluate any potential press releases for how helpful and interesting they will be for their audience. There are angles and topics to consider before making the decision to release your next press release – the biggest thing to remember is to keep your audience in mind.
Stories covered in press releases should include the following: a strong news angle and human interest. In other words, you should consider how the story will affect your targeted parties, whether they are industry professionals, the local community, or the public as a whole. Once you have this angle pinned down, you now have the heart of your story for your press release. The headline should make the angle known; the body language should be clear, succinct, and relate directly to your story’s angle.
Your news needs to stand out from others, and sometimes this can be achieved simply because your company has accomplished something others haven’t. Perhaps your company made a breakthrough in research and development or hit a sales milestone unprecedented in your industry. Focusing on these developments in your press release can also help establish your company as a leader in your industry.
Types of Press Release that Fit: New product launches or an announcement about an expansion of your service offerings. Completed surveys or studies with new or interesting findings.
Sometimes finding a relevant angle means relating the story back to the group of people it impacts. For example, what happens if your company plans to merge with a competitor, or announces a leadership change? With an event like this, it’s easy to find an angle to interest readers: the impact of these changes on employees, company direction and the industry as a whole. If your company has recently participated in or sponsored local events, your story may be relevant to others outside your company, such as the local community or enthusiasts of your industry.
Types of Press Release that Fit: Executive-level leadership changes, mergers and buy-outs. Openings or re-openings of a new or remodeled store.
Your news story could be important to readers solely based on timing, thus creating an urgency that encourages readers to pay attention. Perhaps you’re running a promotion that ties in with the holidays or are involved with an industry event like a conference. You might also be able to find a way to relate a company story back to social issues that are currently on the top of everyone’s mind.
Types of Press Release that Fit: Contests sponsored by your business, involvement in community events, participation in a trade show, recent news announcement, or promotional giveaways.
The email inbox of any reporter is filled with press releases that will never be read. Some of those left behind include stories that aren’t applicable to the reporter’s audience, or whose content is bland; but more often, the forgotten press releases are those the reporter couldn’t be bothered to open in the first place.
Amid a flood of hundreds of emails, how do you make sure yours doesn’t slip through the cracks? A compelling headline is essential; it’s often the one thing separating the weak from the strong. The first — and possibly only — thing a reporter sees when they receive a press release is the subject line of your email. Write a subject line that sparks their interest, that makes them want to open your message. Kristi Dosh makes an important point: press release headlines aren’t always the best email subject lines.
To best grab a reporter’s attention, make your subject line personal and relevant. You might reference an article the reporter recently published, like “Follow-up to your piece on [related published article].” If there’s a topic buzzing in the news, inform the reporter of how your press release connects to a current story. If your content doesn’t relate to what the reporter usually covers, they will skip right over you. On that note, do a little research before sending, to ensure you’re sending your story to a reporter that does cover topics in your industry.
Include the topic of your press release in the subject line — a reporter should know what they’re about to click on. You may state a statistic or important metric, if applicable, to show a reporter that your piece contains valuable, well-supported information for readers.
Be concise. Reporters receive hundreds of emails a day, and they skim through them quickly, opening only those that stand out. The longer your subject line is, the more likely you’ll be passed over as a busy journalist scans her inbox. Get your point across in a quick, and catchy way — give them the information they need to understand what makes your story worthwhile.
It’s usually best practice to leave your company name out of the subject line; reporters will respect you more if you simply explain why your news is valuable, not why your company deserves some media attention. That said, always include your contact information within your email. If a reporter wants to snatch up your press release, they may reach out for clarification on a point or additional information. If they don’t catch you via quick email or phone call, they’ll likely put your piece down and move on to the next.
It should be no surprise that reporters’ inboxes are filled with press releases that will likely never be read. In fact, journalists have numerous issues with press releases they receive. Too often, press releases have a headline that says nothing about the information inside. Simply put, determining when a story is worthy of a press release is only part of the battle. Kristi Dosh makes an important point: press release headlines aren’t always the best email subject headlines. To best grab a reporter’s attention, Kristi suggests adding a personal touch. Reference an article the reporter has recently published, for example, using a headline like “Follow-up to your piece on [related published article].” ISEBOX recommends including relevant metrics if applicable (what better way to make a story relevant?) and using language that speaks to the reporter that reflects how you’d like to be spoken to. Active voice is best and don’t use the company’s name to avoid coming off as needy for publicity. Establishing relationships with your contacts is vital to them taking a second look at your press release and, ultimately, taking you and your company seriously within your industry. After all, isn’t that the point of sending out press releases in the first place?
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