5 Steps for Modernizing Press Releases
In a time where technology allows for instant access to content, journalists and bloggers are always looking for a new story. For many years, press releases were a solid channel for sharing company news and receiving free publicity. Nowadays, the chances of small businesses gaining coverage through press releases are dwindling. According to a report conducted by Muck Rack and Zeno Group in 2018, approximately 53% of journalists surveyed in the United States don’t look to use press releases as new story topics. However, just because the reported numbers are down doesn’t mean your business should nix the channel of press releases completely. The way we look at it, these numbers tell us that journalists are bored and that there is an opportunity to revolutionize the tired, traditional process of writing press releases.
So how can your business capitalize on this opportunity? Mix in the new with the old.
Step 1. Establish the goal of the press release.
Press releases need to be drafted with a goal in mind. What news are you trying to spread? Are you actually sharing something newsworthy or are you writing just for the sake of writing? Take the time to plan out what you want the press release to achieve and then determine whether it makes sense to push it to media outlets or if should it only live on social media or your website.
Step 2. Write with your audience in mind and provide value.
Targeting the right audience can make or break your marketing efforts, and press releases are no exception Keep your audience in mind when writing. Consider their language, the value they will receive from your business – or highlight it if they are not aware of it! – and make it known that your business cares. To take targeting one step further, segment press releases based on your audiences when considering what media outlets or platforms to share with. Writing a press release for the launch of new tech? Push to technology-focused bloggers and post on LinkedIn targeting users you know would benefit from your services.
Step 3. Tell a story.
Out with the bland, in with the storytelling. While there will be some releases that need to be “just the facts”, take the time to get a little creative with your writing. Think of how social media is used to share the news but in an engaging manner and try replicating a similar narrative for the release. Readers will retain the message – and your brand – better when they can associate a feeling with the content.
Step 4. Include infographics or media assets.
It’s no surprise that attention spans are changing in the age of technology. According to Wyzowl’s descriptive infographic, the attention span of an average person lasts about 8 seconds. When it comes to information, humans are gravitating more toward descriptive visualizations in a clean-looking format or watching short videos. To mix in new with the old, consider infographics or adding media assets to the press release. Capture the focus of the readers and entice them to continue by offering more than just black and white text.
Step 5. Maximize your efforts.
Don’t be disheartened if the media does not pick up your press release. It will happen. We all can empathize seeing our efforts not live up to our expectations. However, take advantage of this channel and incorporate SEO and keywords into press releases. Just because the media didn’t run with your release doesn’t mean you can’t still drive awareness of your brand. Align these methods with the goal and audience of the press release and strive to push traffic to your brand. Two birds, one stone.
Bonus Step. Build relationships with media.
Pitching press releases can be rough. Try to make meaningful connections with the journalists and bloggers you want to reach. Nothing frustrates a journalist more than receiving bland pitches of equally boring content. Check out this Twitter account for real-life examples to avoid. Be thoughtful with the narrative of your pitches, but keep them short and simple. Avoid gimmicky subject lines and keep it respectful. Make the effort to meet journalists in your community.
For more insights on getting the most out of publicity, check out our podcast about press release strategies and this video about publicity in the digital world.