November 19, 2014
PR can help you give journalists what they want
Press releases are a necessity. Without them, the only way to get the media interested in covering your company would be for you to walk into a newsroom and scream at the top of your voice for someone to listen to you.
Many companies know the value of a press release but still get it wrong and wind up not getting coverage. To be more effective and get results, let PR show you what you can do to make your information more appealing.
Why most press releases fail
According to journalists, most of the press releases that end up in the “circular file” fall into one of four categories:
They are not newsworthy. Without something newsworthy to report, writing a press release is a waste of everyone’s time. There can often be a huge difference between what your company considers exciting and what the media will cover. The types of stories most likely to get coverage are:
A unique business model
Engaging personalities who have received training on how to speak to the media in an interview
Corporate social responsibility efforts
A breakout product in a new environment
Stories with a strong community connection
The reporter’s audience will not care. Many people make the mistake of sending a release to the wrong reporter. One example is sending information about a new business venture to a journalist who covers the arts. Another common error is not keeping your media list updated and trying to pitch a journalist on a subject he no longer covers. It’s important to tailor your pitch to each individual journalist.
You give away the ending. The purpose of a press release is to get the media to cover your story, not to give away the whole book. In a recent survey of journalists, a majority admitted that they are most interested in receiving information that they can build on.
It’s more promotion than news. Some companies send press releases that practically sing “Me, me, me, me, Me!” You must realize that journalists write news, not advertisements. Therefore, when crafting a press release, ask yourself these questions:
What is the main focus of the press release?
Who benefits from the distribution of this news?
Why is the information important and relevant?
How will the general public perceive this information?
How to make your press releases more interesting
Take the time to create a great headline or title. This is the first thing a journalist sees and, when done correctly, may entice her to continue reading.
Include visuals. Nothing is more unappealing than line after line of endless text. Graphic elements, photos or even videos are terrific ways to keep the reader – the journalist you’re pitching – interested. Better yet, make the whole thing an infographic to get your points across quickly.
Tell your unique story. All companies send press releases extolling the fabulous features of their products. Make yours stand out by focusing on benefits or writing it like a news story told from a different, balanced perspective.
Hire the right PR agency to help. The fact is that you could try to follow all these tips and still get nowhere with reporters. Some of them receive more than 100 pitches every day but only write one story in that time. As a result, they don’t have the time or inclination to follow up on every press release.
Instead of banging your head against a wall, let Axia handle everything for you. We will work to generate positive media relations for increased customer trust, brand credibility and profits for your company. Download our e-book Learn Media Relations from the Media or contact us today to find out how having us on your team can improve your results with news media.
Lisa Goldsberry is a writer for Axia Public Relations with more than 15 years of public relations experience. She specializes in business, higher education and technology PR. Connect with Axia Public Relations on Twitter @axiapr.
Featured image credit: 123rf.com