June 22, 2011
-- 1. A press release is intended for use with the media: newspaper, magazine, blog, TV and radio reporters. If you really need a write up to share with customers, write a case study. (Or better yet, write a press release that you share with the media and aim to have at least one publication write a success story that you can later use with customers and prospects.) If you want content for your Web site, write an online article. If you want to announce a new win, post it on FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Press releases are intended to reach the press for the sake of the news. Keep this in mind when writing your press release so you keep in mind your target audiences.
2. Cut the jargon. Many executives feel that jargon is acceptable because within their field, everyone understands those terms. While I understand that argument, I think it’s better to speak/write simply. Reporters may cover more than one beat/subject so their depth of knowledge may be shallower than the executive expert. Additionally, think about if your press release is used in an article. Will each of the readers know all of the jargon and acronyms? Even more, consider online readers. People who do an Internet search and land on the article may or may not have deep industry expertise but could still be a prospective client or know someone who is. Speak/write clearly so that everyone understands the benefits of your news.
3. Use key words within your press release to help prospects find your content. Many people think key words are only needed to optimize their Web sites, but key words are especially relevant to press releases, too. If you already have a list of key words that your company is using with your Web site, share that info with your PR company or PR department to weave into your press releases. If you don’t have key words worked into your Web site, Google’s key word selection tool is a good place to start. There are many other advanced tools to help you as well.
4. When emailing your press release, make sure the subject line & the content of the press release is error-free. The subject line should be attention-grabbing, yet accurate and tied to the content of the news release. I recently received a press release with conflicting event dates in the subject line and press release. Make it easy for reporters to get the right info or you lose credibility.
5. Follow up is critical. Some agencies just distribute press releases but fail to follow up. Personal follow up really is needed but how you do it is just as important. Don’t call a reporter to “see if he/she got your press release.” They did. Instead, call to see if you can line up an interview with your expert tied to the recent coverage this reporter has given on X subject. Show that you are following that reporter and know what interests him/her. Then tie your news in accordingly. If there’s no tie in, why are you contacting that reporter?
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