Is your press release like a message in a bottle?

This evergreen post was published on our blog in 2009. We have updated it for today.

When to use press releases

Is a press release any good anymore?

Depends.

If you are pitching a national story with strong news interest and relevance, you can use a release to make sure select outlets and journalists you interact with have all the information they need. However, if you are just using it like a message in a bottle, casting it out on the water just to see who answers; not so much.

Press releases have evolved

The use of press releases has evolved. Releases are a great tool for reaching prospective customers if you publish them to your own website. Self-publishing them to your blog or newsroom first is critical. Avoid putting them on multiple free press release sites as these move traffic away from your own site and this tactic has sailed like a ghost ship over the horizon. Google even may mark your website as spam if you post press releases to non-relevant sites. The reality is that releases can help you deepen content on your website and are great when optimized well to bring interested customers to your site.

The days of mass blasting of a news release are gone. Or they should be. If your public relations consultant says this is what you should do, run! What is imperative is a carefully crafted pitch to bloggers, social media followers and interested journalists with whom you’ve developed relationships. Get to know journalists in your field first. With bloggers, seek permission to send a release or know that they are open to receiving your release before you send it. And for all outlets and journalists, make sure to deliver your press release in the manner that they request. Some reporters and editors no longer wish to receive press releases via e-mail and have returned to the days of snail mail.

Relationships come first

Don’t wait to get to know bloggers and journalists; develop your relationship with them over the course of time. Follow them on social media. Reading and following their writing, interacting with them on social media and commenting on their work. Create value and become a known source and then when you have a story to pitch or news to share, they frequently are much more open to receiving it.

If you need help attracting attention for newsworthy stories from your business, give us a call. We’d love to provide our counsel to your business.

Press Releases Are Not Dead

Press releases are not dead.

Press releases: there’s a right and a wrong way to use them

Google has said that press releases aren’t the right way to create inbound links to your website. Nor are press releases best used as broadcast materials to spam editors and reporters.

What are press releases for?

Press releases which tell your story clearly and which support your brand and business goals while featuring genuine news are a valuable item in your marketing communications strategy.

Despite the fact that we advocate having an online news room as a component of your website, from time to time you are still going to need a release. Releases are best used to support a pitch to a journalist or to summarize important announcements about new products, promotions or corporate mergers or brief media in a crisis.

Fast Company provides five tips to help you create the very best press releases.

1. Develop and tell a coherent, compelling story. What makes your company tick? How do you delight your customers? What sets you apart from the pack?

2. Don’t just tout your product or service. Develop key messages that answer the question: Why should anyone care?

3. Use plain English. Avoid obscuring your message by using industry jargon and talking “inside baseball.”

4. Get your reader to engage. Use compelling elements such as data, visuals, and infographics to illustrate your points. And include a call-to-action that drives people to a landing page.

5. Hook yourself to a star. Tie what you’re doing to something happening in the news–especially if it’s in your sector or a targeted vertical market. Shine brighter in the reflected light of someone in the news.

If you’re not inclined to write your own releases and remain familiar with local media outlets and the journalists who bring you the news, give us a call. We’re here to craft great stories from your stories.

New Hire Announcements and Press Releases

Examples of new hire bad, better & best headshots

Headshot Examples
Announcing a new hire within an organization is one way to keep your firm’s name top of mind. This should be a regular component of your public relations activities.

When your firm has a new hire, you can send the information about their position and their responsibilities to local print and digital outlets in addition to placing the announcement on your company blog. Here are a few tips to help you do that.

10 Steps to writing and sending a new hire announcements

  1. Gather background information. Including their CV and previous position information which you will need when drafting the press release.
  2. Obtain a few quotes from them. These should address something about their new responsibilities within the firm. You may also want to gain a few quotes from them about the community in which they will be living, especially if they are new to the area.
  3. Obtain a quote from the C suite executiveto whom the new hire reports. This is good to do when you have a new hire who is an executive. For example, you might write, “Acme CEO Greg Jones said of Mrs. Smith’s hiring, ‘She brings a wealth of customer service experience to this newly created position overseeing every aspect of customer service.’”
  4. Get a good head shot. If you are taking the headshot be sure to photograph the subject against a plain, light background with no furniture, windows, or antenna sprouting from their head. You’ve all seen the head shots where it looks like something in shooting out of the top of someone’s head, or their scalp is bouncing back so much light, that part of the photo is “burned out”(first image on left above.) In years past all headshots were formal (middle image above.) Today we see more personality in headshots (shot of the guy with glasses). While this is good, consider the outlet that will include the image and make sure there is congruence between the outlet’s style and the style of photo you send them. Provide the headshot either as an attachment or more preferably, as a downloadable file from your media area or from an online media room.
  5. Make a list of media outlets. Create your list before you need it. Take note of the outlets where you find announcements. For example, most daily newspapers have a weekly column that accepts announcements of a new hire. There are many online local business newsletters and sites as well as professional associations that also accept new hire press releases.  If your industry has a trade specific journal or magazine, many of these also accept new hire press releases. Create a spreadsheet of the information required by each outlet including the image file format and desired image size as well as submission preferences. These days most outlets prefer to receive releases via e-mail, but every now and again, there will be an outlet that prefers postal mail or even fax.
  6. Write your press release. If you don’t know how to write a press release, Google it. There are many online resources about writing press releases to help you.
  7. Gain approval from the appropriate people at your firm.
  8. Distribute your releasein accordance with all the requirements you’ve noted.
  9. Monitor all the media outlets for inclusion of your release.
  10. Save copies in a clipping file for your reference in the future.

We use this new hire questionnaire to gather information and are sharing it with you for your use.

If you need help writing and distributing your new hire press releases, give us a call. We offer an all inclusive fee for the writing and distribution of a release to the outlets in your community which accept releases.

 

Thanks to flickr creative commons for allowing us to use these headshots.

Photo credits to: (l to r) johnnyryan1, Freddie Murphy, stickwithjosh