Over the course of my career, I’ve written hundreds – if not thousands – of press releases. As a copywriter, it's one of the most common requests I receive. Most of the clients I’ve worked with over the years prefer the standard, run-of-the-mill release: make your announcement, provide context and strategic positioning, throw in a quote from management, and tack your boilerplate on at the end. Voila!
But while this formula may be tried and tested, and while it may get enough media coverage to satisfy the client, I’ve grown weary of the basic press release format. And trust me, so have media professionals. I’ve read plenty of articles hailing the death of the press release, but I wouldn’t go that far: they're still a crucial tool for disseminating information about your business.
That said, in 2017, it’s time to rethink the way you approach press releases. Here are a few ways your company can transform the standard news announcement into something that will really grab the attention of the media, guaranteeing broader coverage and better engagement with your target audience.
Make Sure It's Newsworthy
There’s nothing worse than a press release that’s anticlimactic – or a company that finds it necessary to send out multiple releases every week. When you flood the media with lackluster content, you’re practically guaranteeing that they’ll ignore you – even when you really do have something important to say.
Less is more. Fight the urge to draft a press release every time you want to say something: after all, you can do this more effectively through other channels, like social media. Save press releases for bigger, more exciting announcements.
Provide Value to Your Audience
A press release should do more than just inform: it should engage, and it should give readers access to information that they’ll find useful. Ask yourself, “how does this information help my audience?” Then put that angle front and center. Remember, your content shouldn’t be all about you: it should be about what you can offer your stakeholders.
Craft a Really Great Story
The best, most engaging content doesn’t just provide information: it tells a story. Make sure the story you’re telling is a good one. If you’re announcing a new product or service, for example, tell your audience how that product or service came about: what was the problem you were trying to solve for your customers? What is this product or service going to achieve? Craft a compelling narrative that will make your content – and your business – stand out.
Getting coverage in print media is still incredibly important, but nowadays, most people get their news and information from online sources. And let’s be honest: the standard press release structure just doesn’t work well in a digital format. So adapt it! Create a more click-worthy title for the version you send out to online media: include multimedia elements, like embedded images, interactive content, videos, and hyperlinks that lead back to your business’ owned content (your website, social media pages, and so forth).
And, of course, great press releases require flawless copy. Don’t leave the media to fix your typos and grammatical errors: the less work they have to do, the more likely they’ll be to publish your content.
What are your thoughts on press releases? Does your business rely heavily on them, or do you use them more sparingly? Share your opinions and ideas in the comments!