A press release is one of the most effective marketing tools available to any company, big or small. Press releases have leveled the playing field since anyone can create a press release. That is, as long as you pay attention to the necessary elements. When properly developed and executed, a good press release can be highly effective in generating both short-term and long-term exposure. On the other hand, if you don’t use press releases or you simply don’t tailor your releases in a way that ensures success, you can lose valuable opportunities for media coverage.
While there is no one-size-fits-all formula for creating a press release. You need to include a few components in your press release in order for it to be effective. There are many reasons why press releases are essential for a business. However, one of the most important is that they can help you build credibility. Any company would want to be seen as trustworthy. Writing a professional press release is an excellent way to earn credibility in your industry since many people still think of them as a reliable source of information.
According to research, companies that consistently distribute high-quality and accurate press releases gain credibility with journalists as well as current and potential customers. Press releases can be particularly beneficial to startups and small businesses in creating a positive brand image and boosting online visibility. Nearly 44% of media professionals still think of press releases as the most reliable source of brand-new information.
In this article, we will go through a checklist of the steps of writing a press release that’ll help you generate the coverage you want.
Start with an understanding of PR
Before even writing a press release, you must not only know your goals but must also understand how PR will help you reach them. First of all, you need to know the difference between PR and paid or owned media.
Essentially, PR is earned media where coverage for a brand is not paid for by the business. On the other hand, paid media is media coverage that a company pays for, like a sponsored post with an influencer or a sponsored article in a news publication. Owned media is media that a brand creates and owns, like blog posts, webinars, social media reports, or podcasts.
The main point here is that you do not have control over the earned media about your brand. Earned media is the outcome you achieve when your company’s PR efforts result in positive brand mentions and more awareness of the brand overall. Ultimately, with earned media, the media professional producing the coverage gets the final say on what they include. They alone have control over what they delete, and what message they deliver. It is therefore your job to create a positive and relatable brand image so that the media has positive material to work with.
In addition, to understanding PR, it is also essential to know how it will fit into its overall sales and marketing strategy. Public relations plays a massive role in boosting sales and expanding audiences, but only if done strategically.
Now that you understand how vital PR is for your business, it is time to start the press release writing process. We will be breaking down the process into different phases so that you have a better understanding of the process.
Phase 1: Research
1) Define your goals
The research phase of writing a press release should always start with identifying the goals of your PR strategy. Certain publications will insist on you following specific guidelines when sending a press release. However, before rushing to adhere to those guidelines, you need to consider why you’re creating your press release.
You could write a press release for any of these scenarios: to generate excitement about a product launch, increase brand awareness among a target audience, rebrand the business, announce a merger or acquisition, begin a new business partnership, introduce new employees or executives, or announce an event you are hosting. Ultimately, figuring out exactly what you are trying to accomplish with your PR campaign will increase the chances of you achieving your goals. This will help your in-house PR team or your hired PR agency target your pitches and press releases towards the right outlets and creators.
2) Identify your target audience
Once you’ve established your goals, it is time to start identifying the audience you want to reach. You should draw from any research that your sales and marketing departments have already done regarding your desired customer. Take time to hone in on this customer’s lifestyle, their pain points, and their needs.
If you haven’t done prior research into your audience, you can start by identifying the audience you want. You should jot down where they hang out online, what their buying journey is like, and what conversations they are having. Some additional steps you can take include sending out a survey to collect customer data, conducting interviews with existing and former prospects, creating buyer personas based on your research, and getting buy-in on personas from your sales team.
3) Research Content, Topics, and Stories
Now that you’ve established your target audience, you need to know what they are reading, listening to, and watching. You can use social listening tools to help you identify trending conversations, topics, and issues that resonate with your audience. Additionally, old-school reading of publications that you want your brand to appear in is also equally beneficial.
Phase 2: Creation
It’s now time to create the press release. While getting the content right is essential, it is also necessary to structure the release properly. Otherwise, a media professional will not bother to continue reading. A professional press release should include; contact information, the company’s logo, the release date, the main headline, a subheading (this one is optional), the dateline, lead paragraph, body paragraphs, and boilerplate.
First and foremost, your press release should have a compelling headline, as the goal is to capture the attention of journalists and readers while also providing an overview of why the content is newsworthy. Secondly, you need to include the dateline as well. You should include the release date and location in the first line of the press release. It’s crucial to include this so that readers are aware that they are receiving up-to-date information. Next, your press release should include the phrase “For Immediate Release” to highlight its importance. You should also include contact information so that readers can contact you for more information.
After all of the above factors have been considered, it’s time to focus on the “meat” of the press release, beginning with the lead paragraph. You must keep in mind that journalists and readers consume a large number of press releases and information daily. For this reason, you must make your lead paragraph informative and to the point for your press release to stand out. In this paragraph, you must answer the “what, who, when, why, and where” of your announcement. The lead paragraph should include all essential details about your press release announcement, with some supporting information.
The main body of your press release should include several paragraphs that cover the details, background, statistics, and other pertinent information for the news release. Supporting quotes are also an essential component of a successful press release. Quotes from major players in your company are an excellent way to bring your story to life since most press releases consist of facts and analytic information. Including quotes is also a great way to give a news announcement more credibility and validity. The boilerplate is another critical aspect of a successful press release. A boilerplate is a short paragraph that contains company information. This is where you provide independent background information about your company as well as its mission and vision.
Finally, you should include a call to action at the end of your press release. A good call to action encourages customers to interact with you beyond just reading your press release. Calls to action provide additional information to readers so that they do not have to waste time digging for information.
Phase 3: Distribution
Phase 2 and 3 are interchangeable, but Phase 3 is where you start making a list of target media outlets, influencers, partners, and media contacts that you want to send your press release to. The easiest way to compile this media list is to use a paid PR tool or work with a PR agency that already has a media database that you can pull contacts from. You can also find contacts by looking at the mastheads of the publications you are targeting and using search engines to search for reporters and writers you know by name. Alternatively, you can use hashtags on social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter.
Compiling a media list can be quite time-consuming and take lots of effort. For this reason, you should consider hiring a PR agency that already has a database with media professionals from various industries and niches.
Pressfarm can help with your PR campaign by creating a custom media list for you and working with you to craft content that is sure to bring in replies from your target journalists. With a professional press release, some compelling guest posts, and a creative media kit, you can make a journalist’s head turn.
However, if you would like to build your own media list, make sure to sign up for the Pressfarm media database. Here, you will find comprehensive, relevant, and up-to-date information on over 1 million journalists, bloggers, and influencers across different industries. With this database, you can continue doing media outreach for your brand for up to a year after you sign up.
Once you’ve created your media list, it is time to start reaching out to the journalists on the list. In addition to distributing your press release, you need to send newsworthy pitches highlighting your company and its products. While you do not need to have an individual story angle for every single reporter or outlet that you are pitching to, you definitely need to take the time to make each pitch personal and relevant for the recipient.
For example, let’s assume you’re pitching Wired, a magazine that frequently places its tech features in the context of current events or larger trends. In this case, you’ll need to explain how your brand fits into that larger context. If you’re pitching a review site, all you need is a short, straightforward pitch asking them to review your product. It’s also a good idea to understand what the writer you’re pitching has previously covered. With this information, you won’t just be able to craft a better, more personalized pitch for them.
You will also be able to demonstrate to them that you’ve read their previous work and you’re not just pitching blindly. Additionally, you can use SEO to study which topics are driving the most website traffic. Craft well-thought-out pitches that provide valuable information, and keep the momentum going by following up with media contacts and sharing all relevant information that applies to audiences.
Phase 4: Track Results
After you’ve sent your press release and your pitches, you can expect to start getting responses, requests for quotes, interviews, and other earned media coverage. In order to organize these results, it is good to create a spreadsheet with all relevant information.
Here are some details that should be added to your company’s “pitch tracker.”
- Publication Name/Website – This should be listed alphabetically so that you can quickly find the information you need.
- Media professional’s contact details – In most cases, the magazine, trade journal, or blog will serve as a single point of contact for your business. On the tracking sheet, write down that person’s name and contact information. Include their contact information, such as phone number and email address. Please note the person’s location so you can figure out what time zone they are in.
- Date idea was pitched – You should also include the date when you sent the pitch so that you know when to follow up with the contact.
- Follow-Up Notes – Editors and blog owners have a lot on their plates. Each month, many of them receive hundreds of pitches. You should not get discouraged if a contact does not respond to your pitch within a reasonable amount of time. Give the person a week. You should send a brief email reminding the person of the pitch if you still haven’t heard back.
- Date of the influencer’s response – When you get a reaction from your contacts, whether it’s after your initial pitch or a follow-up, you should make a note of the date in your tracking sheet.
- Influencer’s response to the pitch – The media professional will either accept your pitch, reject it, or ask for more details about your news. Either way, you should record the response on the tracking sheet.
- Date material is published – You’ve spent a lot of time and money to get to this point: your article or blog post has been published. The hope is that thousands of people will read your article and visit your website.
You learn who you enjoy working with and where you stand the best chance of getting exposure as you pitch more ideas and work with more influencers. Your tracking sheet will be a valuable resource throughout this process. With this sheet, you can identify editors who respond to your queries infrequently and those who seem to love every idea you pitch. In a nutshell, a tracking sheet will save you so much time. With the right approach, you can achieve a level of visibility through media outreach that is difficult to achieve through any other route.
Whatever the purpose of your press release is, it is vital that it is newsworthy and follows a structured format so that it does not get tossed out. It is possible to find PR checklist templates online to achieve this goal. Alternatively, you can get the help of PR agencies that already know how to write a winning press release. This can help you achieve your media coverage goals. While there is no “right” way or one-size-fits-all formula for PR, it is imperative to pay attention to the basic components. If you want to really make your PR campaign stand out, then you should go beyond the standard requirements and include some interesting content.