Rethink Your Press Release
For many, the first thing that comes to mind when you talk about media relations is the PRESS RELEASE. But a press release is a tool – a good and useful tool, but still just a tool – not a strategy. That’s not to say that press releases are unnecessary. They are great for annoucing new hires, providing important information on your company’s online newsroom or including in a press kit.
In my experience I use press releases sparingly. Pitching a specific angle to a specific media outlet will often result in a stronger story for you and your business. (Click here for ideas on how to make a newsworthy pitch to the media.)
But while there will be times when you need to use a press release, it doesn’t have to sound corporate and stuffy. Let me give you an example.
Three Little Pigs Construction Announces New Product
Senior officials at Three Little Pigs Construction, proven market leaders in home design innovations and sustainable architecture, announced today that the company has developed a new, cutting-edge brick-based technology that streamlines the building process while providing comprehensive protection from huffing and puffing.
The visionary new approach to home building will revolutionize the industry, says Simon Pig, Executive Vice President in charge of Research and Development for Three Little Pigs Construction. “Straw and sticks are worthwhile building materials,” said Pig. “However, our field team discovered that brick is far more resilient, while maintaining an aesthetically pleasing design.”
Three Little Pigs Construction will partner with Once Upon a Time Brick Company to implement the new system.
We can all agree that the original story is far better than this press release. Not only is the above riddled with jargon and corporate-speak, it’s boring and doesn’t feel very newsworthy.
Here are five tips for writing an engaging press release.
1. Attention-grabbing Headline
POW! Grab editors, reporters and producers immediately with a strong and engaging headline. Make it clear why this is newsworthy. Also, to provide even more clarity before they read the release itself, add a subhead.
Brick Buildings Prove To Be Lifesavers
New Technology Protects from Huffing and Puffing
2. Don’t Bury the Lead
Now that you have their attention, it’s time to hit them with some knowledge. Media people are always busy, so get to the point. Your first paragraph needs to make them want to know more.
Challenged with reducing the number of unnecessary pig deaths each year, Three Little Pigs Construction developed a new technology designed to withstand even the strongest wolf wind. Based on preliminary tests, the company’s new brick designs can withstand huffing and puffing from up to 25 wolves. The tests were conducted by Swine Safety Institute.
3. You Can Quote Me
A release is not a sales piece. You have to stay pretty objective (but not boring) for the most part. However, your quotes can be where you get personal, be proud or state something that isn’t a basic fact.
“We’ve spent the last two years perfecting the brick building process,” said Simon Pig, Executive Vice President in charge of Research and Development for Three Little Pigs Construction. “It has been a personal mission for me. Three of my cousins went blind after their straw house caved in from a wolf attack. One pig left homeless is too many.”
4. Bullet Points
This is particularly important if you have a complicated topic or have lots of information to convey. Again, reporters are busy. They don’t have time to read paragraph after paragraph about your news. Give them lists, bullets, charts or infographics to convey your story.
Additional Swine Safety Institutes Findings:
Resistant to huffing and puffing as strong as 25 wolves per hour
Effectively muffled the sounds of wolf threats such as “Hey little piggy..”
20x stronger than straw; 10x stronger than sticks
5. Technical Stuff
So, now you have an interesting release. Here are some other things to remember.
Put your contact information at the top in case they want to know more.
Indicate it is For Immediate Release at the top. (Unless this is being embargoed.)
Include boiler plate copy at the bottom about your company, including website, in case they need to include that in the story.
DO NOT SEND TO THE MEDIA AS AN ATTACHMENT. Many email systems automatically flag new senders’ attachments as a threat, and quarantine or mark them as spam. Instead, embed the release into your email.
Do you have photos (minimum 300dpi resolution), an infographic, videos, logos or other elements that would help complete the story? Set these up in downloadable formats on your website or in a cloud based folder, like Dropbox, and email a link to the elements. Include photo/video credits and captions.
For the example of the Three Little Pigs Construction Company, I would have recommended a press conference with actual demonstrations of the new brick technology. But you’d still want a release for the press kit and to send to the media afterwards.
Hopefully, if you use some of these tips, you’re next release will blow them away!