Despite reports of their demise, news releases are and should continue to be a core tactic of any public relations program. They continue to be a valuable tool for the PR practitioner for these reasons:
- They are still the best way for PR pros to get the news out to a large audience of journalists quickly and efficiently.
- A majority of Americans report receiving their news from online media outlets.
- Seventy five percent of journalists say that they would like to receive news releases that are well targeted.
So, don’t shelve your news releases just yet. Instead, make sure you’re doing everything you possibly can to generate releases that will capture the attention of the media, gain placements and ultimately get your news in front of your audience. With these goals in mind, following the guidelines below will help you develop releases that capture greater reach and visibility for your news.
This is very important. Be sure to build your news releases on sound news angles. Some examples of good news angles would include new products or services, major staff or workforce announcements, special events, philanthropic initiatives and new business partnerships and alliances, to name a few.
The problem for many companies is that they generate news releases around topics that aren’t really news. For instance, a release that outlines the features and benefits of an existing product or service isn’t news. This is actually sales collateral posing as a news release. It won’t get placed on many news sites if any, and probably won’t even be read by journalists.
Write for the Media, Not the Marketing Department
Sensationalism doesn’t go over well. A red flag that your release is sensationalistic and will be deleted is if you find yourself using words like “best,” “leading” and “quality.” Avoid these types of words and any related statements.
Your release needs to be written like a journalist would write it. Stick to the facts. Start out with the most important information in your lead paragraph. The lead should address the 5 Ws: Who, What, When, Where and Why. Follow this paragraph with the most important information that a consumer would need to know. Minimize grandiose quotes from someone in the company or place them at the end of the release. In most cases, your release should be only a page or less, which should be an easy limit to work within if you’re truly only including factual information in the release.
Target the Right Journalists
Make sure you send your release to the journalist that covers your topic or industry. As mentioned in point #3 above, journalists like to receive news releases that help keep them informed of developments in their areas of interest.
Take great care to identify who should receive your news release at each media outlet. The more current and accurate you are in targeting, the more likely you are to see your news get placed.
The broadest coverage for your news will come if you practice sound PR and journalism news reporting principles. Of course, since your news releases will be visible online and through search you can and should search engine optimize news releases so that they can be found easily. That can still be accomplished as you ensure that your releases are media friendly.
What do you think? What have been your news release best practices?
Author: Steve Sonn
Steve Sonn is the Principal of S2 Marketing Communications. He has more than 25 years of marketing and PR experience with health care and business-to-business companies.