A couple of months ago I attended a PRSA (Public Relations Association of America) conference, where I found myself listening to a discussion that caught my attention. It was about Press Releases were gradually becoming less effective PR tools. I agreed in part with the argument, because the reality is that nowadays no one has time to sit and read a complete two or three-page document (I have to confess that not even I, as a PR professional read through all the releases sent by my colleagues). This is mainly because there is so much flow of daily information that it is impossible for anybody to catch up and read every single press release received, particularly when you know that you are going to receive the same information summarized through another source or outlet.
Nevertheless, I think that the concept of a Press Release is far from becoming obsolete; however, I do agree that it certainly needs a makeover from the traditional format. In fact, a Press Release written correctly and developed strategically can provide countless opportunities when used as a tool to promote a Public Relations campaign.
Here are some key points to consider when writing a release in order to keep it fresh:
- How important or relevant is the news that you are going to announce? There is not one client who doesn’t think every single project merits a press release. It is our job therefore to educate them and advise them correctly of what is really newsworthy and what is not. Put yourself in the shoes of the journalist.
- The headline, the sub headline and the first paragraph should have the complete message that we want to get across. Every time we distribute a release, we rely on that first glimpse to attract the reader. Once we capture their attention, the sub-headline should be equally or even more interesting than the title, and after the sub headline, the first paragraph needs to include all the relevant information we can add, because no reporter is going to continue to the second or third paragraph if the information they are reading is not newsworthy.
- Utilize more visuals. A picture is fine, and it’s certainly a good tool, but what about a short video that can provide reporters with a more realistic experience of the news he/she is receiving. A video is a great resource because nowadays most of the media we try to reach is digital, and the ones that are not, have a webpage. This makes it very efficient for a reporter or an editor to download a video and add the news title. In addition to pictures and videos, you can also use infographics, these are fun, creative and informative at the same time. An infographic can also help to get your message across, not only in traditional media but also on social media.
- Last, you should not feel intimidated in leaving the traditional format behind, and try other ways of developing your release. You can develop a release that can be read as the actual article you want to see published. You can also focus on the story, but give it a human angle; you can include relevant data that sparks the interest of journalists and helps them to develop a different type of story. This type of approach can help garner more coverage than the usual press release we are all accustomed to reading every day.