While press releases may no longer be the primary method for distributing company news in our modern society, they are still incredibly powerful marketing tools that you should take advantage of. Whether you want to promote an event, stimulate conversation about your company, or send a message to the public about noteworthy company developments, press releases can provide immense value through their ability to reach potential customers and generate discussion. Because of this, strategic press releases should be a lynchpin to any public relations strategy.
A brief and captivating press release will share your company’s latest developments with the world, bringing you to the forefront of every conversation. On the other hand, a mistimed or poorly handled press release will likely cause more damage than good.
If you do not manage your press releases properly, it is unlikely that they will ever reach your target audience, which is a waste of a golden opportunity to expand your reach. Not to mention, a big waste of money. Below, we will discuss when you should write a press release, how to best leverage it, and give general tips on best practices.
When to Write a Press Release
A growing, competitive business will have several opportunities throughout the year to write a press release. It’s important to keep in mind though that not every small thing is press release worthy. That said, you may be surprised by all the seemingly insignificant events you missed out on that would have been perfect opportunities to utilize a press release. Such occasions include:
- Important new updates to product or service – Keeping your customers or potential customers in the loop about updates is essential for any business’ success. For example, Apple releases a press release every time their OS is updated. Included in the press release is information about bugs fixed, new features of the operating system update, and the motivation behind the update.
- New differentiating factor that sets the company apart – If your company has created something groundbreaking that distinguishes itself in the market, whether it be a feature, a product or something proprietary, capitalize on this achievement by sharing it with the public!
- New developments – If there are new developments to the product or company itself, let the public know by building up the hype on how these developments will make the company even better.
- Significant new hires – A new hire, especially from another successful company, is a great way to signal that your company is composed of the best and brightest talent. In Hollywood, the trades will regularly discuss an agent moving from CAA to WME or a big-time producer joining a new studio. Naturally, this generates speculation about what they will add to the team or the new direction they may be taking that company.
- Significant changes to product or service offering – If you are dramatically changing your good or service, especially for the better, it is essential you let your customers know. To competitors within the market, it will signal that you are forward-thinking, a trendsetter, or an early adaptor to new tech.
- Any social justice tie-in, charitable event, or significant donation – In recent years, the public has put a larger emphasis and importance on companies actions toward making the world a better place. Although it may seem boastful, just about every company will have charitable promotions that function as a form of advertisement. For example, in the most recent World Series, TMobile promised that they will donate $10,000 for hurricane relief for every home run hit.
- A new partnership with another business or organization – If you are partnering with another business or organization for a new product, social justice cause, or bundled product deal, let the public know. If you don’t share this information, you’re doing both of your companies a disservice. After all, the whole point of working together is to try and convert the other business’ customers into your own as well.
- Setting the record – There are times when there is information you need to clarify or have as a matter of record but that isn’t necessarily something you would pitch to the press. Issuing a release is a great way to make this information easily available to people online.
The Substance of the Press Release
If you want to get the most out of your press release, you must have something that is both newsworthy and readable. Tips for increasing the impact of your press release include:
- Seize the reader’s attention with the headline – A majority of readers never get past the headline itself. Therefore, as with any article or pitch, a strong, encompassing headline is critical. Ideally, it should draw the audience in, while also summarizing the gist of the press release. Avoid clickbaity or Buzzfeedesque headlines, as most readers have become jaded by companies misleading their audience. Making a dramatic statement in the headline and then contradicting it within the release does not sit favorably with readers.
- Include quotes – If you want to increase your credibility, quotes from high-level sources or trusted industry leaders are essential. Your audience is far more likely to believe you if a known figure adds their insight to the matter.
- Keep it simple – Do your best to avoid industry jargon or technical language that your audience might not understand. If that is unavoidable, do your best to explain this lingo in layman’s terms. Press releases should be able to be read by an industry expert, as well as a person who has never heard of your service.
- Keep it concise – Press releases are not novels. They should grab the audience’s attention and briefly tell them why this release matters. If a reader sees a wall of text, they are far less likely to read it. As a general rule of thumb, a press release should never be more than a page long. If a reader wants more information, they can reach out via the contact info found in the release.
- Use visual content – Video, pictures, and infographics help you tell your story visually. The human brain processes visual information at a much more rapid rate than it does translating text. By sharing essential information, statistics, and data in a visual manner, you can emphasize points while enhancing readability.
- Create a pitch – When reaching out to editors, you should write a media pitch that briefly sells the story and its relevance to the editor. This pitch should include succinct details of the story and convey why it matters to that publication’s audience.
- Use Link Building – In recent years, more distribution platforms have employed no-follow links, but for those who have not, press releases are fantastic means for building brand awareness and increasing SEO presence. If allowed, add links to your press release that readers can click on to find out more about your company or product. By adding this landing page, you also increase the likelihood media outlets will link back to your target site, thus helping your position in the SERPs.
How to Leverage Your Press Release
Now that we’ve covered how to write a press release and what to include within them, let’s take a look at a few tips that will help you get the most out of each release.
- Plan ahead – Don’t wait until the last minute, especially since press releases can build up hype and generate conversation. By preparing well in advance, it will give you time to lock in all the proper approvals and quotes, as well as sufficient time to pre-pitch the release to editors.
- Make sure it is, in fact, newsworthy – If your release does not touch on any of the points above, then there should be a good reason behind the statement. Ask yourself, “Will this release excite people within the industry? Does it give value or speak to current industry trends? Would it serve my interest better if it was released on the blog/press section of the website?” Simply filling the air with noise is not the right way to go about press releases. If that becomes a habit, readers will eventually just ignore it, expecting fluff.
- Focus on point pitching – Point pitching is where you will get the most feedback from press. Before releasing over the wire, focus on your point pitching. If the release is already live, there is no “exclusivity” to it, and it will be unlikely to garner the same amount of interest and traction with editors.
- Find the right editors to point-pitch your release – Create a list of editors who are the ideal fit to tease and cover the press release. Certain editors have built-in audiences that are right for one type of press release, but not a great fit for another. If you do generate interest, you can send over the full release held under embargo prior to distribution.
When done right, press releases are valuable means for disseminating new and vital information within the industry and to potential customers. By keeping relevance and readability at the forefront of your mind, you’ll ensure that you’re getting the most out of each and every press release.