There is plenty of advice out there about press release best practices and how to get the attention of journalist and influencers. Unfortunately, much of the advice comes from people who have likely never worked as a journo and have little idea as to how news organizations and media work. That’s why we decided to go straight to the source to get some real-world insights.
According to a senior journalist, when you get up to 100 press releases every day (on a quiet day) one of three things are likely to happen:
1) You read the first part and trash it (PR’s must have all the relevant information up front, and in some cases, less is more so keep it simple).
2) You continue reading and use the release as is or trash it. This means that the PR needs to be well written, short and to the point, and ready to use in the style and tone of the outlet you have sent the release to. If they only use sponsor names once, only use them once; if they use a style for acronyms, use the same style; if they use Mr / Mrs / Ms /Dr before surnames, use them – or don’t if they don’t; and never refer to people by their first names if the site does not.
3) You read it, it’s interesting, provocative and follow up – so make sure there are relevant contact details that are easy to find. Reporters are always looking for expert sources for stories. Let them know your founders, customers, execs and partners are available to interview, answer questions, or anything else the reporter might need.
Other helpful advice:
- Don’t send attachments. If you’d like the journalist to have access to images or files, provide a link and allow them to download from there;
- Avoid crying wolf, jargon and cliches;
- Use quality distribution channels. Stay away from cheap or free PR sites as you are likely to get get your email data sold to spammers and 3rd parties or have your news (and company) associated with less than reputable sites. If you’re engaging in online publicity because you want to increase exposure and profitability for your company, it makes sense to invest in distribution.
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- Undertstand targeting to your niche market/industry and geographic regions. Rely on agencies and services that specialize in that field to maximize results and save you time/money and effort in the long run.
- Use spell check and have somebody else proof read. Use tools like Grammarly and and Readable.io to improve readability, and ensure your content is concise and easy to understand;
- Become a reliable source (and never be anything but 100% honest);
- Avoid emojis and all caps in the subject line;
- Put the contact info right up top followed by a sentence or two summarizing what it’s about;
- Leverage your social channels to syndicate your press release and leverage groups and forums
As one journalist pointed out, “I’ve written for niche industry publications where my primary job was to scour press release sites and find the latest stories/updates, daily. Then, I would re-hash these stories with my own words in the voice of the publication.” So, in other words — not every publication is going to copy your press release word-for-word. That said, it is prevalent to pull quotes from a press release, so it does help to write in a tone consistent with the publications you want to be featured in.
One thing that is incredibly significant to stress — keywords are extremely important. Many journalists set up Google alerts for certain keyword combinations. Make sure to appropriately incorporate as many relevant industry terms and keywords as you can in not only the first paragraph but also in your headline and subhead.
Here’s the good news: According to a study by AdWeek, more than a third of journalists said they still get story ideas from press releases and 88% take some value from them (the number for trade bloggers is much higher). Press releases are branding and credibility tools, as well as SEO tools. They are a great way to get the word out about a company, product, or service, and to more effectively brand that company, product, or service.
Long term distribution strategies can provide your company with increased visibility and help you become established as an industry leader. A reputable press release distribution service like Hotel News PR or Travel News PR is the quickest and easiest way to do this. An extensive network of distribution partners available through a focused distribution service greatly enhances the possibility of being exposed to the right people at the right time, which increases the chance that your news items will get picked up and featured on premium news and industry sites.