Learn how even a small press release can mean big things for your company
The first press release was issued in 1906 by PR pioneer Ivy Lee, who convinced his client Pennsylvania Railroad to issue a statement following a deadly train accident. Since then, PR professionals have sent press releases to announce news about everything from bedbug infestations to the FIFA World Cup.
Even with all the new communications technology and the seemingly unstoppable progression of social media, the press release remains a staple of company events and initiatives, crisis management efforts and PR campaigns. When you have to reach everyone quickly and need to use more than 140 characters to give the complete picture, a press release is the way to go.
The purpose of the press release
Tell your own story. A press release can be a crucial tool when there’s a crisis. It allows you to get ahead of the news and release your own version of events before someone else tells it for you.
Make sure your information is correct. If you want something done right, you often have to do it yourself. A press release provides you with the opportunity to personally spell out your position on an issue or ensure that features of your product are described precisely as you want.
It acts as a vehicle for new information. There are several ways to announce a new development or product launch, but an expertly crafted press release is the most reliable way to capture media attention. With a press release, you can direct your message to your targeted audiences through the news outlets they view or visit by reaching out to the right journalists.
Announcing a press conference would be impossible without it. Although they have become infrequent in recent years, a press conference remains an ideal means to address numerous members of the press in one location at the same time. They are especially important when the information being shared is of major interest on any scale – whether in your community, regionally or nationwide. The press release is the way to get your information out there.
For political news and information, they are a necessity. When a government figure has something to say, it typically begins with a press release. He or she may announce the specifics of a news conference where the information will be revealed or try to clean up a negative situation with a well-written news release.
Basically, the purpose of a press release is to get a reporter interested in your story or announcement. Your goal should be to have them read it, like it and then call you to get more information.
What makes a good press release today?
The headline: Think about the last news article you read (either online or off). What compelled you to read it? Most likely, it was the headline. Think of a good headline as a good sales pitch: It’s what gets your foot in the door and encourages your audience to listen further. For emailed press releases, the same thing goes for your subject line.
The body: It should be well-written and as free of errors as possible. Additionally, journalists expect your information to be clear, concise and quickly get to the point. Omit all unnecessary quotes and full titles of people your company needs to thank. A press release is for the media, not those people.
The formatting: You must properly format your press release and address it to the right reporter. Remember to include the contact information for the person who will be fielding media calls. Keeping your paragraphs short and limiting the document to one page will serve you better than a long, detailed dissertation.
How a PR firm can help
At Axia, we craft the press releases that get results. Download our free e-book Learn Media Relations from the Media or contact us today to learn how we can generate positive media coverage for increased brand credibility and profits for your company.
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.
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