- Press releases
- Media and influencer lists
- Community engagement
- Digital newsrooms
How to Write a Press Release
Press releases have always been about boosting brand awareness via earned media coverage. That will never change; however, born from the digital revolution are new benchmarks, goals and strategies.
First of all, syndicating your press release to major news websites, industry publications and blogs will drive new and targeted traffic from audiences who wouldn’t otherwise have ended up on your website. And using targeted keywords in your press release, especially your headline, can also help your release rise up in search results.
Ultimately, the majority of consumers trust earned media more than paid and owned content, and press releases play a vital role in how your target audience perceives your brand.
All that being said, it’s important to craft a press release that journalists and people want to read. Here are a few tips.
Make it Newsworthy.
Always start by asking if the story is newsworthy. Writing a press release just to write one is a surefire way to get penalized by Google and ignored by consumers.
Ask yourself: would this story be appropriate in the news section of the newspaper, or maybe a trade publication? Is it filled with facts or opinions? Does it tell a story or does it sound like an advertisement? Would your target audience want to read it?
Press releases should always be about news.
Write an Engaging Headline.
Headlines are the first things, and often times the only things, people see, so take time to craft the best possible one. Google also crawls them, but usually only the first 70 characters, so keep yours short. Use statistics or numbers from your press release to engage readers.
The ultimate headline formula:
Number + Adjective + Keyword + Rationale + Promise = The Ultimate Headline
Google may or may not index the subheading and they don’t appear in the newsrooms, but that doesn’t mean it’s wasted space. Use it to add context to your press release with important keywords and phrases. It also helps break up longer content to make it more readable.
Pique Interest in Your Introductory Paragraph.
Successful press releases present exciting information immediately rather than holding it back. Focus on answering who, what, when, where, why and how, at least at a high level. Then add detail in subsequent paragraphs.
Drive Audiences to Take Action
Make sure to have a call-to-action in the release. The news release today is just as much for the end consumer as it is for a journalist. Direct the audience to take the action that you would like them to take. This should be included in the first 2-3 paragraphs. It should be clear, concise and compelling — bolded in the body of the press release.
Build It Out in the Body
The body builds on that pertinent info you provided in the introduction. Add details, bullet points and quotes from key spokespeople to enhance your news. Don’t give away everything here; the purpose of a press release isn’t to provide a 1,000-word detailed account of your news, but rather to create curiosity, present the facts and motivate reporters, journalists, and consumers to get more information from you.
Leave Audience Wanting More.
The conclusion can be thought of as an “about” section or boilerplate. Share information about who your brand is and what it does. Wrap up with a restatement of why people should care about your news, and provide links where they can get more information about your brand.
Building a Digital Newsroom
In the digital age, the term “newsroom” has been updated to reflect how businesses can show off their earned media mentions online.
The goal of a digital newsroom is to make marketing and PR content easy to find, access and use. Typically it consists of a page on a brand’s website with links to articles, interviews, video clips, speaking events and any other media coverage a company has garnered along with key company facts.
This is the page you send reporters and influencers to when pitching them so that, should they want it, they can give additional information about your brand. Consumers, too, can access your online newsroom to learn more about your company.
Here, get tips on setting up your digital newsroom.
Figure Out What You Need to Include.
Especially if your PR team works overtime, you may have a plethora of media you could share on your digital newsroom page. Stick to the best and most relevant content to avoid inundating visitors with data.
Ask the Media What They Want.
Talk with the reporters and journalists you’ve built relationships with and ask them what they’d like to see in a digital newsroom. What’s the most valuable? Beyond links to press releases and earned media, would they like access to logo or product images? The more aligned you are with what journalists want from your newsroom, the more value it will provide.
Make the Newsroom Easy to Find and Navigate.
Media people are like everybody else. If they don’t find the information they want right away, they bounce. Make sure there’s a link to your newsroom at the bottom of each page, or prominently displayed elsewhere. When you send journalists a link, send it directly to the newsroom so they don’t have to hunt.
Always make links open to a new window for articles you house in your newsroom. You don’t want people to navigate away from your website, so they can read the latest review of your product in a new tab, then come back to your site.
Provide Static and Dynamic Content.
Static content can include news releases, earned media clips, and awards announcements as well as blogs, white papers, and other owned content. Dynamic content refers to rich media, photo galleries, videos, graphics, and audio. A mix of the two will make your digital newsroom a success.
As you get more media coverage, remove older links in favor of newer ones so that your media page isn’t endlessly long.
List Contact Information.
Include contact details (email, phone, and social media) for your PR spokesperson on your newsroom page. Also consider creating a directory of company experts and key figures: people the media will want to interview.
Showcase Past and Upcoming Events.
Events are another way to establish your brand as a credible and authoritative voice in the marketplace, and including them on your media page can show that things are moving and shaking at your company. Plus, a detailed calendar can be the deciding factor in whether a reporter will give media coverage or seek you out at an event that they know you will be attending.
Measuring Your PR Efforts
Almost all the previous “basics” we’ve covered mention tracking or analyzing efforts, making this final point an obvious one: measure your work. Assessing results is critical, and there’s really no excuse not to. Data is plentiful and ready to be harvested.
Determine Your Objectives.
Measurement only works if you know what you’re trying to measure. What are the outcomes you hope to achieve? Look at both big picture and individual campaign goals
Once you’ve determined what you want to accomplish, write these goals down and share them with the team. Measurement works best when everyone’s involved and aimed toward the same target.
Monitor Results Along the Way.
If you start with a benchmark of where things are before a given PR campaign, you can determine how much a given project moves the needle. Measure results after each and every campaign, and assess them alongside those benchmarks.
Analyze and Refine.
When something isn’t working, change your approach. Do change only one thing at a time so that you know the factor that made the difference. And wait until a campaign is over before changing strategy; with public relations, it can sometimes take a while to get earned media mentions, so give them time to happen and spread your reach.
A PR pro’s job is never done. Objectives change as the company matures or branches into other markets. New initiatives start. When they do, keep the principles of measurement in mind. They’ll keep you on course and make sure you hit your target.