Five questions to ask yourself before sending out a press release
Are you sending out the best content?
Sending out press releases is still a big part of public relations. Even though the PR landscape has changed over the past two decades, mainly due to the internet, press releases still prove their value. That is, when your press release is worth reading. How do you make sure your press release is the best piece of content you can send out? Simply ask yourself these five questions to see if your release is in need of improvement.
1. Did I include all information needed to release this to the news wires?
Journalists are constantly working on tight deadlines. They hardly ever have the time to search for missing information when receiving a potentially interesting press release. Make sure you include all required information, that your release is easy to read and there is no duplicate information. To make sure you meet all the specs, tick off the items on the list below before sending your release to the news wires.
Clearly state that you are sending a press release when you are using a direct email address
Include a clear headline which touches upon the newsworthy subject of your release
Provide the date and location of the event or news. Include ‘Under embargo’ when the news cannot be published before a certain date
Make sure you state all the facts in the first paragraph: who, what, where, why, when and how?
Use quotes to support your message or claims. Make sure you state who you are quoting and why this person is important by stating the role of the individual
Include visuals and downloads in your release and state the copyright information.Try to avoid sending press releases without any pictures
Provide contact details of the contact person for journalists, and make it easy for a journalist to reach you if they have any further questions
Add a boilerplate which covers the most important information about your company, such as the services you provide, the location, your website, core products or services, and employees, etc.
2. Is there a way to personalize the content?
Personalization drives the results of your content. Is there a way you can personalize the content or the accompanying message of your press release? You could think of including an internal expert on the matter and use a quote of this colleague in your press release. Writing in the third person is still the way to go for press releases, but this may create a distance to your reader. Make sure you write the release from the premise that an actual person will read this.
When sending the press release, think of how you can segment the people you are sending it to. Can you divide the people into smaller groups and use shared characteristics to personalize the message you are sending? We will get back to this later on, but do think about segmentation early on to connect the press release to the journalists you will send the piece to.
3. Is all the information included in the press release correct?
Usually, press releases contain information like dates, places and names. Make sure you double check if the information is correct before sending out your release to avoid any mistakes. Also double check the company information and links that are included in the press release. Are the contact details and web links the right ones for this particular release or journalist? When using quotes and sources, make sure you check if the information is correct and used in the right context.
4. Did I use a readable and understandable format?
A press release has a particular format that makes it easy to digest the information offered and find relevant bits to use for an article. Respect this format and present the information of your release in a readable and comprehensible way. Make sure your release is short and easy to read. Use paragraphs to break up text and include subheadings. Always include multimedia and provide, if possible, a link to where the multimedia can be downloaded from. And make sure you can tick off all the items for the news wires.
5. Am I targeting the right people in the right way?
As always, it is important to ask yourself who are you targeting, why, and how. When reaching out, always think of what platforms and media your target audiences are using. Are the journalists you are approaching using the same platforms and media?
If you are trying to reach multiple journalists and platforms, consider segmentation. Are there ways to split up the group of journalists and platforms into smaller groups with shared characteristics? Think of location, industry, subjects they cover and audiences they target. Use this information to tailor the press release and accompanying message to their personal interests and preferences. Personalize your approach as much as possible by adjusting the press release, medium you use to reach out, call to action and accompanying message to send the press release with.
Timing is also very important. Are you reaching out at the right time to gather momentum for this release and are you aware of the timing preferences of the journalists you are contacting? Take this into account before sending out your message. Finally, shareability is key. Make it easy for journalists to share your message and content. Post the release to your website and include share links, and make the press release interesting enough to share.
Send it out!
When you have ticked all the boxes, it is time to send out your press release. What happens next? Possibly, your release will get some media coverage or the message will be read on your own channels. Tracking the results of your efforts is a great way to see what you could improve for upcoming press releases. Think of metrics to use and goals to achieve with this press release. Are you able to define some measurable elements? Keep track of the performance of your message using the predefined metrics and use the insight you gather for new content. This way you can continuously improve and increase the chances of getting press coverage and traction.
Check out our article on Press Release Examples to get some more inspiration for your press releases.
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