Inner Circle

Public Relations and Communications  

Don’t Write Off the Press Release

by Nick Lashinsky

OK, so maybe business editors at the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post aren’t sitting around waiting for news about your annual event or association, but that doesn’t mean the press release is dead! It just means—in an increasingly digital media environment—you have to get even more creative with how you use press releases to reach trade media. It can still be an incredibly effective tool to help touch target audiences or grow attendance or promote offerings—but only when done right. Here are five tips that mdg‘s public relations team uses to get more eyes on our clients’ news:

Entice the press through social. By utilizing social media as a starting point with media outreach, we aim to direct writers to our releases with brief, interesting descriptions and embedded links. Writers and reporters get an overview of trends being launched at an upcoming event, for instance, and an easy way to find additional information, without sifting through an entire release. It also forces us to use an economy of words and think in 140 characters. As an added bonus, it’s an exercise to measure engagement on social media channels for our press contacts and prospects.

Anticipate questions. It’s no secret media professionals are stretched thin and have little time for back and forth. We try and brainstorm questions they may ask ahead of time and answer them in the body of the release so they have the full story. The tighter the writing and the more information provided about the association offering, industry or event, the greater likelihood the reporter or writer can “plug and play” without additional editing or time-consuming follow-up.

Include multimedia. A surefire way to limit audience exposure is to neglect to include multimedia as part of a press release. For better or worse, media professionals have come to expect photos and videos; after all, they help tell a comprehensive story—especially for a live event. If you are, if fact, looking for game changing national coverage, note that Associated Press media subscribers do not utilize releases without multimedia assets.

Be SEO savvy. Search engines are becoming more sophisticated, forcing PR pros to follow suit. Instead of only loading SEO-friendly keywords into the release, it’s important to incorporate industry-specific phrases to best reach reporters eager to consume the message.

Personalize the pitch. Quite simply, the importance of getting to know the media covering your industry cannot be underestimated. In our experience, the more you interact with them on social media, understand what they cover, know their preferred method of receiving information and reference other stories they’ve written, the more they’ll believe you have something interesting to say and let you into their inner circle.

Whether you are using an agency like mdg, a copywriter or your very own keyboard to write releases, take a step back and reassess your overall media outreach approach every once in a while to ensure you are executing in a way that will yield maximum exposure and results.