The press release, as a format, is over a hundred years old. Traditionally, it was meant to reach the newsroom of various media outlets, such as newspapers, television studios and radio stations. The press release, however, has been abused thoroughly in its lifetime, moving from a provider of breaking news to being the format used to announce just about anything. To a certain extent, this has led to a decline in the effectiveness of the press release. This does not mean that the press release can no longer work as a communications tool.
Here are four ways to ensure your press release does not get deleted from a journalist’s inbox.
The headline acts as the hook for the rest of the press release. This also serves as the subject header of the email that is sent out to the journalist. Journalists are always on the lookout for their next story. However, like all of us, journalists are overwhelmed by the flurry of emails that clutter their inbox. As such, it has become critical for public relations professionals to capture their attention quickly. The best way to write a great headline is to imagine the headline that you want to see in the media and use that as the foundation for the rest of the release.
A press release, while often used to convey information to the reader, does not have to be dry and dull. Elements of storytelling, such as the use of analogies and context setting, can go a long way towards making a press release compelling and insightful. The use of analogies, for example, can help the target audience immediately relate to the story. For example, a story about hackers attempting to attack government systems would be instantly more relevant to the masses compared to the account of a cybersecurity vendor releasing a quarterly report about cyber threats.
The importance of a good pitch note, which refers to the email sent to the journalist along with the press release, cannot be overstated. The introduction within the pitch note is essentially an elevator pitch in written form. To maximise the effectiveness of a pitch note, public relations professionals require an in-depth perception of the journalist that they are writing to. Journalists often write in addition to their regular beats and finding stories that are relevant to each journalist can be the difference between getting a story published or your email deleted.
Good press releases get the job done and conveys the information that a company wants to transmit. However, great releases go further and open the door to a whole landscape of opportunities. Through insightful commentary and relatable premises, press releases can stoke the interests of journalists and create a desire to learn more. This could potentially lead to interview opportunities and further media engagements that could allow you to position yourself as a thought leader in your field.
Ultimately, the humble press release is an indispensable tool in the arsenal of any communications professional. When done well, it can not only lead to coverage in the media but also open the door to more opportunities for media engagement and business development.
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