So you want to write a compelling press release that’s going to get noticed, but when you’re one of 200 stacking up in email inboxes every day, how do you manage to stand out? We took some wisdom from a panel held by SWFL FPRA – where professionals from The News-Press, Naples Herald, WGCU News, and WINK News gave insight into what media outlets look for – and we broke it down into five essential tips on how to compose a good press release.
There’s news, and then there’s what we think is news. The trick is telling the difference between the two. We may believe that our company hiring a new employee is the greatest thing to happen all year, but you have to step outside your world and ask one important question: Why would the audience care?
A good press release consists of the who, what, when, where, and how of a story that would be considered part of a current trend, relevant issues, breaking news, or in-depth stories that connect with human interests. Keep in mind that this does not include past events or sales pitches. What has already happened is old news, and what you’re selling should be contained in an ad.
Make sure what you’re sending us is real, valuable news, said FM Station Manager & News Director of WGCU, Amy Tardiff.
The punch should start with your headline or email subject line. Think of it as your story condensed into a single tweet. It should convey the heart of your story while compelling the recipient to read the rest of your content.
Never bury the lead, advised The News-Press’ News Producer, Derrick Shaw. Think of your subject as a headline. If it was a headline on Google, would you click on it?
If the answer is “yes,” you’re doing it right. Once you’ve identified a strong headline, introduce your lead in the first paragraph, then support it with substance and credible facts.
If journalists and news writers had a dollar for every time someone said, “We are the leader in…” then they would probably be retired in Fiji by now. More often than not, this line gets cut out of the news story unless you provide credible evidence that has marked you as the leader in whatever achievement you’re boasting about. Even then, ask yourself how important the statement is? Unless you won the Nobel prize, it may not be all that impressive.
Instead, aim to be unique in your content delivery. Avoid the generic “first” or “best of” introductions and tap into a personal story that connects with human interests. This puts a face to your content and makes it more relatable.
Also, eliminate the phrase “For Immediate Release,” or any variation of it. Such intentions are already assumed when you submit the content to media outlets. Professionals suggest that you use those 21 precious characters to jump straight into your headline, which increases your odds of getting noticed.
If you’re still on the wagon of thinking websites and social media aren’t necessities, it’s time to step off and join the digital realm. Journalists and news reporters don’t typically publish a press release “as-is.” They do their research, fact-checking, and digging up background information on the stories you submit.
Social Media is key to your brand’s success, with emphasis on Facebook, said The News-Press’ Digital Engagement Editor, Cory O’Donnell.
Most business owners don’t realize how important their websites are, added Founder and Publisher of the Naples Herald, Sasha Bogojevic.
Most people will turn to your website and social media to learn more about you or your business, including media professionals. They are today’s go-to resource, which means having an active online presence is essential to marketing your business.
Post as if the media isn’t going to show up, encouraged the Digital Content Director of WINK News, Stanley Chambers.
One post a week isn’t enough. Post news, photos, and press releases whenever possible through your channels. Using your website, blog, and social media platforms as a newsfeed for your business helps make their job easier and your story more appealing.
Newspapers, magazines, and television channels get inundated with media submissions. Don’t risk your email bouncing or being rejected because you tried to stuff it all in a single email. Instead, use cloud resources such as Google Drive to upload everything a media outlet would need in one accessible location.
When it comes to photos, avoid vertical shots, smiling poses, and selfies. Instead, aim for horizontal action shots such as a speaker engaging an audience or people networking with one another. While release forms are not required for photos taken at public events, always credit the photographer and include the names of the individuals photographed, preferably in order from left-to-right. Excluding even one of the individuals’ names can render the photo useless to the media.
It pays to get to know the journalists and reporters in your beat. Building a relationship with these individuals can make your email in their inbox more recognizable and appealing. You can include newsroom emails as well to expand your reach. Just avoid snail mail (USPS) and the use of PDFs. There isn’t enough time or manpower anymore to devote time to transcribing your press release.
The answers come down to two things: your timing and your message. You never want to toss out a press release during a breaking news hour or a major event, such as a presidential election. Doing so will almost guarantee your press release won’t be seen. Instead, try to catch television or media outlets on uneventful mornings. This will give them the chance to review your submission before the chaos of the day begins
Check out these Press Release Distribution Tips from the Pros!
Contact us! Vectra Digital has an in-house staff dedicated to helping you get the exposure you seek. We can syndicate your company’s highlights through press releases and other solid marketing strategies.