When was the last time you, or your PR company, sent out a press release to the media and got cranky that nothing was ever published? ‘It’s the damn journalists’ fault – they just don’t understand my business and they don’t get how important this announcement is’. Pray stop and think a little.
Journalists, like most people these days, are short on time and resources. So too are the audiences they write for. So if your press release didn’t elicit any interest from the journalists you sent it to, then perhaps you should stop and consider why.
The first question you should ask yourself is; is this really newsworthy? I’ve lost count of the number of press releases I’ve seen that contain nothing at all of note. So before you plough ahead and work up a press release, ask yourself carefully “does this news really warrant a press release”?
The second question you should ask yourself is this. Is your release relevant to the media you intend sending it to? The tendency is to assume that because a story is important to you, it’s important to everyone. Or do you blast out a release to all and sundry hoping that someone will pick it up. Did you ever consider how many releases the average journalist receives in a day and how totally irrelevant a large percentage of them are to that journalist’s audience? So make sure the media outlet you send your release to talks to an audience that is likely to be interested in what you consider to be news.
A journalist’s first loyalty is to their reader. Everything they write needs to be relevant to their target audience.
Media audiences turn to media sources they consider are reliable and relevant to their needs. In other words, media sources where the journalists and editors have a strong understanding of their audiences’ needs.
So wise up to this. Understand that any release or communication you send has to be targeted and relevant. If you pump out releases to all and sundry it’s no more than spam. That annoys people, and will receive the consideration it deserves from editors – they’ll file it straight into the little round ‘out tray’.
Far too many companies fail to understand this and work on the basis that the more releases they send out, the more likely they are to get media coverage … Wrong! Consider the parable about the “boy that cried wolf”. Cry wolf too many times and your voice ceases to be heard – which means when you do have something important to say, the people that you need to say it to have long since stopped listening.
Lastly, think about your news from the audience’s perspective. What’s of interest to the publication’s audience about your ‘news’? That’s what a good journalist will be looking for. So you’ve hired a new person, or launched a new product.
That might be important news to you. But what is it about that news that’s important to the readers of the publication you want to reach out to? What’s the “so what” factor?
Put yourself in the readers’ shoes and ask yourself “why would they be interested in my story?” What’s in it for them? And write your release accordingly.
So next time, before you put together a press release full of pithy self-congratulation and barely concealed sales pitches, stop and ask yourself three simple questions. Is it really news? Is the media I’m sending it to relevant to my message? Have I got something that’s of interest to that publication’s audience?
Answer all of those questions with a ‘yes’ and there’s a good chance your press release will actually get some cut through. Answer any with a ‘no’, and chances are your press release will wind up straight in the out basket.
Bob Pinchin is the director of Sway.tech, a specialist communications house for technology companies. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org