Forbes Communications Council members discuss ways to create effective press releases.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.
Information in the digital world moves too fast and in too many directions to rely on the standard practice of writing a press release to generate broad interest. To grab the attention of news outlets and journalists and gain earned media for your company, you can’t just send out an announcement and sit back to await reporters’ calls.
With so much content available today, traditional press releases received by news outlets may be relegated to the compost pile. How can a PR practitioner create an effective press release that will do what it is supposed to do?
Below, 12 experts from Forbes Communications Council examine some effective ways to ensure that the press releases you create will have the intended effect.
1. Enable Two-Way Conversations
Press relations should be about building trusted relationships with reporters and enabling two-way conversations where you can feed them updates on an ongoing basis, and they know when to engage you for comments on a specific story they are working on. Press releases should be used for communicating milestones and material updates. – Isabelle Dumont, Cowbell Cyber
2. Emphasize The ‘So What’ Factor
Reporters are inundated with company news and product launches. To stand out, lead with the “so what” factor: the significance of your news. Why does this announcement matter now? What is the impact on the industry? It’s important to be deliberate about who you’re targeting with the news. To reach your goals, the content must be tailored for the publications and journalists you are targeting. – Lynn Kier, Diebold Nixdorf
3. Customize Your Approach
In today’s digital-first, socially savvy environment, there is no one-size-fits-all PR plan. The approach to every launch must be fine-tuned and specific to every story you want to tell. While press releases help outline the overall story a brand wants to disseminate, PR professionals must be mindful that particular sound bites will resonate differently per outlet. – Kate Haldy, David’s Bridal
4. Share Real Stories Of Real People
PR practitioners should focus on sharing real stories of real people and businesses that validate or reinforce the ideas and important outcomes of the underlying press release. Announcing a new product? Don’t pitch the product; pitch the customer story and how it has changed their lives. Announcing new research? Pitch the outcomes and how they will change the way businesses or people operate. – Tyler Lessard, Vidyard
5. Get To The Point Quickly
Get to the point quickly and remain succinct in your copywriting. People don’t read now; they scan, and your main points should be accessible quickly and catch the interest of those you’re targeting. Enticing titles and bold copy will help you stand out and get noticed. Pair this with professional images that clearly demonstrate what the bulk of your article is about to take away any guesswork. – Victoria Zelefsky, The Menkiti Group
6. Present The Most Critical Information Up Front
With so many releases being sent out daily, it helps to include the most critical information up front. Presenting key facts early on is the best way to gauge interest and drive engagement. Reporters should understand the main message you are sharing just by reading the first paragraph so that they can easily assess if the content is a fit for their audience. – G’Nai Blakemore, Mattress Firm
7. Avoid The Fluff And Share It Strategically
No reporter—or stakeholder—wants to read long releases with superfluous information and vague quotes. Keep releases concise and focus on the facts. You can further cut through the clutter by strategically sharing your news with reporters that are covering the type of information you are communicating. This approach could net a feature story versus just a mention. – Marija Zivanovic-Smith, NCR Corporation
8. Include And Refer To Multimedia Assets
Include and refer to multimedia assets in your press release that are visual and compelling in order to grab journalists’ attention and reach a wider range of media. Any standout numbers, new research or expert quotes in the press release can also give reporters a greater sense of its impact and reach when considering covering the story or event. – Maura Kennedy, Pond Lehocky, LLP
9. Build Relationships With Key Journalists
I believe a better strategy is for PR professionals to develop relationships with key journalists they can rely on to report news about their companies. Writing a press release and hoping it gets covered isn’t a strategy. In addition to relations with journalists, PR professionals must maximize the tools they have at their disposal, such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and TikTok, to increase visibility. – Brittain Ladd, PULSE Integration
10. Release The News Yourself
If you don’t have time for a formal release, you can release the news yourself. Pick a central hub where you’ll house the longer-form narrative (e.g., your blog or company website), then create social posts and e-blasts that direct your stakeholders and customers to this digital location. On social, tagging press outlets and using their specific hashtags is a quick way to get their attention. – Melissa Kandel, little word studio
11. Create A 360-Degree Approach
A press release is simply a tool to make sure the information you want conveyed is there and factually correct. You can use your relationships to get press placements, but in today’s world, you should think bigger to make a splash. Create a 360-degree approach that includes social, paid media, influencers, affiliate, etc. If writers are seeing your news everywhere, they’re going to get in on the action. – Michelle Gabe, TRUFF
12. Insert Your Story Into Thematic News Cycles
Start from the press angle. The cardinal sin of public relations is using press releases to brag about company achievements. In today’s fast-paced world, no one cares about that; in reality, news cycles have thematic links. As a PR practitioner, your job is not to override those themes, but to carefully and genuinely insert your company’s story into them. Do that, and you’ll get coverage. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap