Press releases are often included in many companies’ communication strategy, as a means of announcing their news or updates to a larger amount of journalists, but also of building trust and increasing awareness among their target audiences (thus making it a very good inbound tactic).
Deciding the right moment to send a press release, writing it and seeing it published can be challenging, though. This article will take you through some useful steps that will help in your quest.
When should I send a press release?
There are various news that are worthy to make the topic of a press release, such as:
- The launch of a new business / project
- An investment
- A change in the management of a company
- Results of a research
- A major accomplishment
- Announcing winners of a competition
It is important to keep in mind that although a press release can give you a boost in visibility, this is not a tool to be used all the time or a magic tool that will ensure your business’ long term success. You have to have something important, appealing to the press you are targeting, in order to increase your chances to be featured and you have to integrate these press releases in a wider communication campaign.
How should I write it?
A good press release has a clear structure.
It starts with a powerful title that summarizes the most important news you want to transmit. It can include numbers or strong statements.
You then should have an introductory paragraph that includes the most relevant data or information from your press release. Imagine that someone would open your material and they should get a good understanding of what it is about from the first 3-4 lines.
The rest of the press release should be concise and on point. Answer the following questions: who, what, why, when, how and for who? and keep in mind that while you are extremely familiar with your business, some people might just hear about you for the first time. Don’t assume they already know you or your program (especially if you are a startup), give context, while gravitating around the theme of the material.
You can also include a quote – from the founder or different partners (this is nice, but not mandatory) to give it a more personal note.
Don’t forget to use trackable relevant links (it will also help you with SEO – here is an interesting article on how to optimize a press release for SEO, by Search Engine) and to add a boilerplate at the end of the press release (a boilerplate is a short paragraph describing your business).
A press release is always sent as a Word or Google Docs material, never as a PDF because it is more difficult to copy the text and it should be accompanied by a relevant picture of the founder, team or product.
If you are looking for some inspiration, you can either look for other press releases published by other companies (some are usually marked as press releases) or use templates such as the one created by HubSpot.
To whom should I send it?
Always, always do your research and send your press release only to those media outlets that are probably read by your target audience. The end goal is to increase awareness and ultimately, sales, among your potential customers, so don’t waste time and effort by sending your material to a too-broad list.
You can target both industry-related publications, as well as business-oriented ones (assuming you are promoting your business).
Many of the sites make their editors’ email addresses public and it is best to contact those people who have previously written about a topic similar to what you are proposing.
What does a good pitching look like?
When sending your press release and relevant picture, you should carefully choose not only the subject line of your email, but also the wording in your body text.
A good subject, catchy and appealing will increase your chances that journalists actually open the email. You can even adapt the title of your press release and use it as a subject line. Whatever you choose, keep in mind that a journalist might receive tens of emails everyday and your subject line should really stand out in that long list.
The email should be short, contain some relevant information that might make journalists curious or interested to read more. Include contact information and always make yourself available to give more details if needed.
What should I do afterwards?
In order to measure the impact, you should always monitor your media mentions – there are platforms that do that for you, giving relevant insights as well. One of the most easy to use and free monitoring platforms is Google Alerts.
If you got published, try to maximize this by sharing links from various publications that accepted your press release. You can even include these links in Ad campaigns, run co-branded campaigns with some of the publications or even use their logos on your website showing where you’ve been mentioned.
Now that you have the framework to create and distribute a press release, there are some soft skills that you should also put to work.
Remember that a press release is a PR material that, if interesting enough, should be published for free. At the same time, this means that each journalist has the freedom to choose whether or not to publish it. Treating people with respect and keeping in mind that they don’t owe you anything will help you greatly in building long-term relationships with the media.
Also, manage your expectations. If you don’t get published as virally as you wished or if you don’t see a big impact in sales afterwards, don’t be disappointed. Every step of your communication process helps you build trust and increase awareness and results will appear sooner or later.
It is vital to try again and again, to ask for feedback – if you have a good relationship with some journalists you might ask them for their opinion on how you could improve your press releases, and always to thank people who take their time to help you.
You could also publish the press release on your website as well, so that any journalist who would like to know more about you has access to a media data base:)
If you are looking to learn more about PR and how to talk to journalists, check out this article: Tired of journalists ignoring you? Here is how to get more love from the press!