You’ve probably heard people tout the death of the press release – good news if you can’t stand writing them.
But does this really mean we can bury the press release for good?
The truth is, press releases are still getting small businesses, just like yours, FREE publicity every single day.
The secret is knowing when to use them.
Make the media’s job easy
Here’s the deal. Anytime you contact a journalist, you need to ask yourself ONE question:
“How can I make their job easier.”
Of course, the first answer is to develop a story angle that’s timely, relevant, and begs to be published – boom!
But you also need to consider the method of delivery. Is a press release the most convenient way for a journalist to receive this information?
Or is your time better spent crafting a more personal email pitch?
The answer lies with the media you’re targeting. Their time is precious. Give them what they want.
When a press release works wonders
I’ve had great success using press releases to get newspaper coverage for my clients
That’s because a press release follows a distinct news story style – when I send a press release to a newspaper reporter, we’re speaking the same language.
In fact, a well-written and relevant press release can often go to print almost word-for-word.
This is when press releases are their most powerful. They help you control your message, deliver well thought-out quotes, and give a journalist all the relevant information they need to publish the story.
5 situations where I’d use a press release:
- To pitch a news story to local and national newspapers. News reporters have daily deadlines and editorial space to fill. Delivering them a quality press release in a style that suits their publication will dramatically increase your chances of getting featured.
- To increase SEO and overall online presence using online news sites. Online press releases are often published word-for-word and can include photos, links back to specific pages on your website, and embedded videos to bring them to life.
- To announce a time-sensitive event to multiple media outlets. While you do need to be careful about pitching unique story angles to competing media outlets at the same time, events generally don’t fall into this category.
- As supplementary information for a bigger story. Press releases do a great job of communicating your most important information in a no-frills kind of way, so journalists will often request a press release to check their facts against and help them write a more involved story.
- To communicate sensitive information. A press release can help ensure your story is accurately reported with pre-prepared quotes, correct name spellings and so on.
When NOT to use a press release
While a press release can be the perfect fit for a news outlet, it’s not the best choice if you’re pitching a glossy magazine’s ‘What’s hot’ section, for example.
Why? Because the format of a press release doesn’t match the bubbly paragraph of copy this type of section demands.
‘Hot’ a press release is not.
Remember, your goal is to make the media’s job easier – so deliver your story in the same style, tone and language of the outlet you’re pitching to.
For special features and other non-newsy sections, a pitch email is the way to go. They’re personal, concise, and they don’t need to comply with the strict format of a press release, which gives you room to be more creative.
But that doesn’t make them the easy option (sorry!).
Just like your press release, pitch emails need to be compelling enough to pique a journalist’s interest.
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Emma Lawrence is a web-savvy PR pro and award-winning journalist who teaches creative small business owners how to ‘talk their walk’ and attract the attention they deserve. Get your email love by signing up for free updates below: