Even in these digital times, the press release is still a viable public relations (PR) tool. That’s because newsrooms are smaller, the news cycle is constant and reporters are pushed to write, publish or produce more stories than ever. A well-written, newsworthy press release can make reporters’ and editors’ jobs easier.
Before we go over the reasons why a press release is getting ignored, let’s define what a press release is. It’s simply a formal way of presenting news to the media. For the purpose of this article, we’re going to use the term interchangeably with media advisories, story ideas and media pitches so that we can focus on why your hard work is not producing results.
If your press releases are getting the silent treatment, here are some likely reasons why.
1.Your press release has no “news.” I hate to break it to you, but just because you consider something newsworthy doesn’t mean the media will. This includes your new products, staff hires and industry awards. The media, particularly print and online, receive countless press releases each day, and most are not of interest to a wide audience.Your best hope for coverage is to keep your release short and to target specific media outlets to receive it – online or print industry magazines, for example, or your city’s local business publication. If you want guaranteed coverage, publish your release on your website’s News page or company blog. And then remember to promote it through your company’s social media channels.
2. Your news is buried. I can promise you that cynical reporters cringe when they see the words “…. is pleased to announce” in the first sentence of any news release. Or when they receive a release that runs three pages long. It’s your job to make the news in your press release easy to find and understand. Newsrooms are smaller, the news cycle is constant and reporters are pushed to write, publish or produce more stories than ever. If a reporter, editor or blogger has to dig through your press release to find the news, you can expect them to ignore or delete it … and to potentially do so with every other release you send.
3.Your news release is filled with jargon. Do you really believe your newest app, product or idea is revolutionary? Unique? Innovative? Industry leading? Honestly, it probably isn’t, and for veteran reporters, such words are red flags that warn them to question your truthfulness.
If you really feel that such words are necessary, use them in your marketing materials, and then only sparingly.
- You sent your release to EVERYONE. Getting a reporter’s attention takes time, so the ease of buying a database with hundreds of contacts can be tempting. But you likely won’t get much return on your investment.Getting media coverage is like most things in life – if you want results, you have to make the effort. For PR efforts, that means investing the time necessary to identify reporters who cover your industry and to write a personalized email or message to each of them. It should include a greeting, a short description of the information in the release, and multiple ways to reach you with follow-up questions.
5. You didn’t include images or video. Each time you send a press release, your goal should be to make life easier for a reporter or producer. If you are promoting a product, include an image of it or a video explaining how to use it. If you are announcing a new hire, include a headshot of that person. The more you can provide to a reporter up front, the more likely he or she is to cover your news.
6. You aren’t available. If you send a reporter a press release, be prepared and accessible for follow-up questions. Also make sure that a key company leader is available in the hours and days after you send a release, and is comfortable talking to the media. Sometimes reporters want to talk to someone other than a company spokesperson.
Even if you don’t immediately have an answer to reporters’ or editors’ questions, let them know you’ve received their requests and are working to get the information. They’ll appreciate your attentiveness to their deadlines.
If you’ve made some of the mistakes above, don’t fret. Tomorrow’s a new day, and these changes are easy to make. However, if you adjust your tactics and still aren’t getting the results you want, you may want to talk to a PR professional. Our team has years of PR and media experience, and can help tell your stories in ways that get results. Contact us today to learn more!