I came a across a blog post the other day by Lou Hoffman, of The Hoffman Agency, titled “Why Great Storytelling in a News Release Can Hurt Your Cause.” It’s a good a reminder to use a press release wisely, mainly to share necessary facts and details, and to leave the storytelling to the reporters.
I couldn’t agree more with Hoffman, but the post got me thinking about my old friend the press release, and the bad rap it gets. I’ve written so many over the years I might have a hard time counting that high. One could say I’m biased. But, I’ve also pitched reporters for – let’s just say a long time – and for certain news including events, product launches, store openings or even closing, many (not all) reporters seem to appreciate the who, what, where, when, why and how. It is helpful to share with others in the newsroom, and most importantly, being able to pull facts from a release helps keep information correct.
So when I am asked, “Is the press release dead?” I will always respond by saying absolutely not! When pitching reporters, more often than not they ask for a release. Yes, I know that may be a kind excuse to get off the phone, but when they are interested in your event or news, they need the information. However, here are a few things to keep in mind for your next press release.
- Keep it simple. Share the news you have by answering the five “W’s.” You don’t’ need to tell a story in a press release. (read Hoffman’s post)
- Write your press release as a reporter writes a story – as in inverted pyramid. News first….fluff should be saved for last – if at all.
- Explore your distribution options. An interactive news release allows you to share visual assets in a convenient and efficient way. It’s not always needed, but it can be a bonus when sharing a lot if material with the masses.
- Press releases are most appreciated before the fact…not after something has happened. What’s done is done. Reporters want to be ahead of the curve.
- When you post a press release through a news distribution service, always optimize it to help improve your websites’ SEO ratings. This is especially helpful if the news you have to share isn’t Earth shattering. You may not get a good deal of pick-up from every release, but you should put a little effort into making it work for you and your online assets.
Want to see what some members of the media have to say about the press release? Here’s what PR pro Arik Hanson posted recently in “Is the press release really dead?”
Long live the press release!