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When to Resurrect the Press Release

Working with small businesses and startups on a regular basis, I often have conversations about exactly how I’d conduct their media outreach, should they hire me. I’ve always had a great answer–one that I still believe to be true. I don’t do spammed pitches. I don’t do databases. I don’t do PRNewswire. I develop a list of media prospects based on what the client does and who writes about their space, I write tailored pitches, and I send each one individually.

Ninety percent of the time, this holds true. I develop relationships with reporters and try hard to send them only the stuff that’s relevant to their beat or interests, while also thinking outside the box in terms of who might be interested in some aspect of what my clients are doing. But all that said, sometimes there is room for a good old traditional press release. (Hint: that time is NOT when you have tweaked a tiny aspect of your product to release version 3.2.17.) The key to getting media coverage with a press release is understanding two things: (1) when it’s appropriate to use a release instead of a tailored pitch, and (2) how to send the release so it’s not relegated to SPAM.

When a Press Release is the Way to Go

  1. You have news. Big. Huge. News. What’s big huge news is dependent upon who your company is and where you’re pitching your release, so take a deep breath. Step outside of your role as a business owner, where everything is cause for shouting from the rooftops, and into the minds of your customers, neighbors, the audience of your target publications. If your big huge news detector is going off, think about writing a press release, because in this case the angle you pitch with is less important. What you’re saying, in and of itself, is newsworthy, and that means you should write a press release.
  2. There’s lots of information to convey. If you’re hosting an event, have a key hire, are launching a new line, opening a new location, etc., there’s likely lots of info you need to share with your audience. A press release or media advisory can be the best way to convey this, ensuring that reporters are getting all of the details they need in a concise, readable package.
  3. You’re sending something to listing departments. If you’re running an event or something where you’ll be sending information to a listings department, it’s traditional to do a press release or media advisory for the same reason as #2. Ensure that whomever is on the receiving end gets everything they need. If they’re busy, they may be unable or unwilling to follow up, so a release provides them with a package of data.
Just because you’re writing a press release doesn’t mean you toss it into an email, BCC your entire media list, and call it a day. There are right and wrong ways to send out your press release.
  1. Send it via wire services: PR wire services can be useful when you’re looking to boost search rankings or you have extremely relevant (aka big huge news) information that you need to get out quickly and effectively. For a couple hundred bucks, your new product launch, partnership, etc. can end up in the appropriate search results and may even get picked up by a publication or two you wouldn’t normally pitch.
  2. Personalize: When sending your release to your target media list, add a short personal note with the highlights of the release and why you’re sending it to that reporter. A couple of sentences will separate your release from hundreds of others and call attention to anything important the reporter should know.
  3. Do. Not. Attach. When you’re sending out a press release, never provide an attachment. Copy and paste the release into your email and offer to send photos upon request. Attachments will get your email tossed in to SPAM, or worse could irritate the recipient.
Stay tuned for more posts about how to write an effective release and pitch reporters.
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About kelworthy

Marketing & Publicity Consultant, Writer, and Filmmaker

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