How to get great publicity for your press release. Once you’ve written the press release, the hard part is over. However, there is still a lot of work to do, small details to take care of, and results to measure. This content will discuss the in’s and out’s of distributing a press release, including how to handle manual submissions. But first, a word on the “Press“.
Know the Press
In public speaking, understanding your audience, their preferences and moods, is a critical factor in the success of your speech. Just as telling lewd jokes at a eulogy will be inappropriate and talking about your sob stories at a first date (come on, don’t tell me your first dates are easier than any public speaking engagement) is a definite no-no, there are some clear rules to talking to the media.
And your press release is all about “convincing” the media to run your story. One of the main themes in this content is how you should put yourself in the shoes of the journalists – people who will be reading your press release. The ‘press’ in the ‘press release’ are reporters actively searching for news.
The press wants news that sells, not a sales letter about your company. While for certain things you can generalize about the press, the truth is that sections of the press behave very differently.
For one, there is a stark difference between media houses, newspaper editors, independent journalists and end-users subscribing to news feeds from a particular industry. If you are using a personalized distribution approach, capitalizing on these differences will greatly enhance your chances of success.
When distributing on a general scale, and especially when you don’t have media houses looking specifically for news regarding your company (you’re not IBM or Wal-Mart just yet), the best approach for you is to master these two factors:
- Have a compelling story to tell
- Write a winning press release
Writing a press release involves telling a story that is relevant to your industry. As such, there are different classes of readers who will be interested in your press release.
- General – low interest, hard to please
- Focused (Category) – medium interest, hard to pin down but more likely to give some coverage.
- Targeted (Sub-category) – high interest, success is directly proportional to the quality of your information.
Who would you target your press release to?
- You could go for a general, wide-spread distribution.
- You could target only the medical field.
- You could specifically target physical therapy, mental health, research and the medical products sub-categories within the general medicine category.
Distribution services allow you to selecting specific industry targets for your press releases. But that is only one side of the story. You have to write your press release and weave in the story with your target industry in mind as well.
So now, you’re not only writing for the press, you’re also writing for reporters who will be looking for information in a particular sub-category of their chosen field. One of the major factors when it comes to deciding on a press release distribution service is the level of targeting they offer.
Before you send your press release for distribution, you have to ‘prepare’ it. Here’s how:
- Ensure that you can easily identify the separate elements of the press release – headline, summary, lead paragraph, body text, boilerplate, contact information. Distribution services like PRWeb ask you to enter these directly in an online form instead of submitting a formatted press release.
- If you are not using the SEO service of the PR distribution company, ensure that you carry out adequate keyword optimization yourself.
- For online distribution, prepare your press release in a Word document, or in a text file. The actual distribution process usually involves converting the press release into an HTML format for online presence, text and HTML e-mails (or via fax) to editors, and syndication via RSS. In addition, your press release is also offered as a PDF download (PRWeb). All this formatting is done for you by the distribution service.
A manual submission is basically about you contacting a newspaper editor yourself and pitching them your story. While this is essentially free, it becomes very time consuming to reach a large number of people this way. And with free press release distribution services like PRWeb and scores of public relations firms specializing in press release distribution, manual press release submissions are passé.
So why am I talking about manual submissions at all?
There are several reasons why a personal approach to a newspaper might be just as good as a general distribution. For example, if your press release and its news hook are largely relevant to your local market and not really applicable in other states (for example you operate a health-care service in New Jersey), you could consider focusing on local newspapers.
While press release services often give you the option of targeting your press release locally, there are three problems in this case:
- A personalized pitch to one newspaper editor is far more effective than having them read your press release amongst several dozen others and then ask them to make a choice. Very often good press releases are put on a file for later use and just forgotten about.
- The second problem is that of a lack of personalization. When you write a press release for general distribution (even if it is within a targeted sub-category and meant for your local area), you write in a style that will appeal to everyone on your distribution list. By doing some research and understanding the psyche of a particular newspaper, you are much more likely to score bonus points when you pitch the story in a way that will appeal to their publishing style.
Finally, there is a major problem of exclusivity. A personalized approach will mean that the newspaper editor is not getting a standardized press release that, for all he knows, was also received by every other newspaper editor in the state (if not the country).
Now, if your company is well-recognized and generates interest of its own, then all is well and good. If you find that one-in-a-million perfect story that will make editors clamor for your attention, even better.
But if you are like most businesses, the story will be automatically be in with a greater chance of dismissal because the editor will think that running the story will not guarantee him exclusivity – after all, everyone else in his industry probably got the same news release.
If you were a news editor, which story would you rather run? One that you had exclusive access to or one that you knew other newspapers had an equal chance of running as well?
As long as the story is not earth-shattering (press releases usually aren’t), and your company isn’t a house-hold name (which it most likely isn’t), your chances of success will decrease automatically.
That is not to say that distribution services are not worth the investment. In fact, based solely on the exposure they provide your business they are more than worth their value. But you’re not only looking for publicity. You’re looking for great publicity.