Businesses large and small in the U.S. issue thousands of news releases every day. And nearly all of them have the same goal: To gain positive media coverage of some kind.
Amidst this sea of verbiage, it takes diligence and creativity to make a press release stand out from the crowd.
Here are seven helpful suggestions from PR Web, an online news release distribution service favored by many small businesses:
1. Make it conversational
Avoid filling your news releases with a lot of industry jargon, tech talk or self-promotion. Instead, try to speak the language of the people you want to reach. If you are writing a news release for the beauty and lifestyle space, for example, try having some fun with the tone and style. Likewise, if you are targeting insurance trade publications, write in that industry’s particular vernacular.
2. Adapt your pitch by publication
The vast majority of media outlets in the U.S. – websites, newspapers, online magazines, blogs, radio shows, etc. – have some kind of focus or specialization. And even general interest publications have specialized departments.
Instead of merely issuing one blanket release, consider customizing some pitches to individual publications. This is a must when pitching any kind of major media outlet. They don’t want to see what everyone else is seeing. They need something unique or exclusive – a peek at the inner workings of either your business or perhaps an interesting customer using your product or service.
3. Keep it brief but thorough
Start with the basics. Make sure your release includes all necessary contact information, and answers the important who, what, when, where and why questions. Without this information, few writers or editors will take your release seriously.
Brevity is important for any material you send to the media, whether it’s executive bios, company information or product details. Product pitches should include pricing details, a link to high-quality photos, and a few story ideas for how the product might be featured in the publication.
4. Include proof points and data
Writers and editors love releases that include detailed, real-world information and verifiable data (preferably that your business has generated itself) to support any claims being made. Without these kinds of facts, releases tend to sound like just so much bravado. Try to explain your data in a bigger-picture context, and provide your key findings up front.
5. Include a local or regional angle
Local or regional media outlets are always looking for stories within their specific geographical sphere of influence. You’ll get more attention by tailoring all or part of your release to an important local theme of some kind. A national story that also includes regional data is highly desirable. If you have data that drills down to a specific region and comparative regions, you’ll get more coverage.
Research beat reporters covering your industry in a region and align your pitch to what they specifically write about. Capture attention quickly by writing a headline and lead sentence that incorporate the regional angle. Be sure to include information about availability of local spokespeople for interviews and additional quotes.
6. Target a publication’s social channels
A media outlet’s social channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.) can have nearly as much value to you as its printed or online pages. By offering images, videos or tweet-able blurbs along with your release, you’ll improve your chances of gaining coverage.
7. Be thoughtful and strategic about your images
An image can help a writer, editor or producer understand how a story might be constructed or laid out, and can even help shape the tone of the piece. For a product pitch, be sure to think about how targeted publications actually use images. At the very least, you should have a company logo available.
In all cases, after you distribute your release, follow up with the journalist, editor, blogger, producer – or whoever you pitched. Reporters are receptive to exclusive information not available in your release itself, so choose a reporter and offer them a scoop.
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