A news release is an important tool of any public relations program. In fact, some public relations programs can be conducted entirely on the basis of news releases.
Indeed, no matter what you do, from developing a new product to mounting a parade down Main Street, you ought to have at least one news release in your campaign.
Check for potential newsworthiness
Let’s face it: not all news releases will see the light of day. Very few will land on the front page of the dailies; some will be featured in the business section; others will be squeezed with 20 other releases in the news snippets; but a lot more will be thrown in the trash can. Determine the likelihood that your release will be used in the newspaper or on the air. Briefly outline to your friend your story idea, and if the reaction is “Gee, whiz. I didn’t know that,” or words to that effect, then chances are great the editor or writer will have the same reaction and publish your story.
Keep the tone objective, not promotional
Avoid using hype, unsubstantiated superlatives, or direct sales pitches (“XYZ Body Wrap will make you stronger, sexier, and sassier”) all kill media interest. If and when you want to include an opinion, praise or testimonial, it is best to attribute it to a person through quotes. “XYZ Body Wrap will make you stronger, sexier, and sassier,’ says Vanessa Johnson, a customer since 1995,’ is more likely to survive screening.
Carefully proofread your news release. Editors have little tolerance for typos or misspelling; spotting one or two may cause them to throw out your story. Don’t depend on your spell-check program; even the smartest ones miss some dumb mistakes. Editors and reporters wade through a tremendous amount of data everyday, making instantaneous decisions about whether to use or not to use a material. The harder you make it for them to do their work, the less likely that they will use your story.
Produce different versions of your release for separate, distinct audiences
Determine if your news could attract different audience. If it does, make sure that you prepare a news release tailor made specifically to each of your target audience. When an author in Arkansas issued a new book on growing orchids, she sent out three releases; one for each market her book appealed to. For gardening magazines, she used the headline, “A New Way to Grow Orchids”; for orchid and flowering enthusiasts, she talked about the most efficient way to keep your orchids blooming; and for her local publications and media, she talked of the availability of local expert on growing orchids.
Plan to be available after you distribute your release
Make sure that you are available for interview anytime after your press release has been sent. Don’t head off to Bahamas for a weeklong vacation after sending out your story. In addition, make sure that you allow enough lead-time for the publication of your story. Media, particularly magazines or weekly papers, require some lead-time for submission of editorial content. Get your intended media’s submission schedules; don’t submit today for an event tomorrow knowing fully well that the publication requires at least a week lead-time.
If you’ve written a decent press release that appears complete, some media outlets will run it word for word. They may condense it, or rewrite it, and embellish on the information you sent them. Most media people will call you up to get additional information, or simply to make sure that you are legitimate, or invite you to be a guest on their program.
If all you hear is silence, this does not mean you’ve done anything wrong. Take heed: even Donald Trump’s redoubtable press agent can’t get him exposure everywhere, all the time.
Recommended Books on Writing Successful Press Release:
- How to Write a Press Release, Second Edition: A Beginner’s Guide For Anyone Interested In Writing And Submitting Dynamite Press Releases, Including … Of Free Press Release Distribution Services
- The Ultimate Press Release Swipe File: 50 Templates That You Can Use to Get Your Business Media Exposure Today
- How to Write Perfect Press Releases
- I Need a Killer Press Release–Now What???: A Guide to Online PR
- How To Write A Press Release: 84 Easy Tips To Get Free Publicity For Your Business Or Website: A Beginner’s Guide For Anyone Interested In Writing And … Of Free Press Release Distribution Services