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How to Make Your Press Release Strategic and Media-Friendly 1

I wrote recently on this site about brands and executives who have such an abiding distrust of media it completely prevents them from taking advantage of the power of the press, even when they have truly good–and noteworthy–news to share.

Then there’s the flip side: executives who think everything requires a public announcement. In such a case, gentle guidance is recommended to help these overeager newsmakers adopt a more strategic approach to press announcements and develop rewarding relationships with relevant media.

Many self-marketing entrepreneurs and marketing professionals simply need a starter course on press releases, to clearly understand how the news media sees them—and how they are best used. As a marketing tool, a press release enables a company to carefully craft and control its message and establish a messaging baseline. If its content is newsworthy, media outlets might reach out to develop a story. Should the release be particularly well written, it could even be posted verbatim.

Following these basic guidelines for your press release can make a big difference in improving media interest, potential placement and marketing power.

Make sure your news has news value

Free press isn’t really free; payment comes in the form of giving the media what it wants.

News editors look for angles that will grab readers’ attention and interest. View your press release through their eyes: If your news is self-serving, promoting your company or product, chances are slim that the media (or its audience) will find it compelling.

Save the Date: PR News’ Media Relations Conference, December 7, 2017, Washington, D.C. Information about other PR News events can be found here: https://www.prnewsonline.com//pr-news-events  

Aside from being ignored, your company may be perceived as non-strategic, un-newsworthy and self-promotional; the media you wanted to woo may start to ignore everything you send, including future announcements that actually are newsworthy.

Learn to take no for an answer

Calling or emailing repeatedly to find out why your non-story didn’t get coverage can: 1) earn you a bad reputation; 2) reinforce the idea that ignoring you is a good plan; and 3) incite a media outlet to use its influence to paint your company in a bad light. This last scenario would be an extremely rare outcome, but there have been cases of certain outlets (particularly those given to somewhat snarky coverage as a default) that have published “portraits of terrible PR people”-type stories after exchanges with promoters who simply wouldn’t stop.

Choose targets strategically

You could be leaving potential media coverage on the table if you fail to consider niche publications. For example, you own a restaurant and recently partnered with a charitable organization to donate unused food to the homeless. Instead of pitching this story far and wide, targeting an audience served by a hospitality industry or non-profit publication could increase your chances for coverage and better fit your business goals.

Consider different angles

Alternately, you might be able to get your major metro newspaper to cover your partnership, but you’ll need to brainstorm ways to create mainstream reader appeal. For example: Focus on the broader issue of hunger/poverty in your region; mention how your restaurant’s initiative is contributing to a collaborative effort. Even if the final story is not devoted solely to your business, it’s likely you will be included.

Leverage the power of owned media

Even when your news is unlikely to meet the threshold for media coverage, there is still great value in posting periodic news releases on your company’s website. This practice will bolster your brand’s image and industry standing by showing that you’re hitting milestones, staying on top of trends, benefiting your community, etc. Incorporate releases into a social media strategy as well; steering followers from your social channels to the news page on your site could bring multiple marketing benefits.

See beyond media coverage

Remember: While media coverage may be the desired outcome of your press release, that goal is not always realistic. It’s more important to skillfully incorporate the press release into your communications strategy. With time, simple research, and well-written announcements, communicators can become skilled in the art of the press release.

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