Yes. And no.
If you work in communications, you’ve likely been reading about (and experiencing) the demise of the press release for the past several years. The days of sending a press release over a wire service for media or SEO traction are long gone. Very few people have time to read a couple pages of press release content, especially editors and reporters who are typically performing several different functions for one or multiple media outlets. And today, most newswire sites use nofollow links, which means that any links within the press release do not help SEO efforts.
If you work outside of communications, you may be hanging onto the press release as a way to announce something noteworthy and garner the attention of journalists. And there are many elements of the traditional press release that you can use to do exactly that. Here’s where the press release isn’t dead: in the attention-grabbing headline and compelling details of your news.
While the final product may not be a press release, the end goal is the same that it has always been – to reach as much of your audience as possible with your news. With some slight alterations, the process that you once followed to develop a press release can now be used to develop the storyline that you’ll need to share your announcement. Here are four ways to turn your press release idea into a media pitch that an editor will actually read:
- Identify the audience. Who is the right audience for your news? You are no longer checking industry boxes on a wire service submission form, so you need to pinpoint exactly what sort of companies and individuals would be interested in your story. This won’t be the same for every newsworthy event or story that your company has to share. Find the audience that won’t say “So what?” to that specific story. Then find out what outlets and publications that audience is reading.
- Write a strong headline/subject line/social post. While you might not be able to tell your whole story in 280 characters or less, modern expectations dictate that you to be able to pique a reader’s interest that quickly. Think about the type of headline that would make you click to read the article or the type of subject line that would make you open an email.
- Tell the story as it would be told by a reporter. Think outside in – editors and reporters don’t want to read about how great your company is or all your latest accomplishments. Pitch them news they can use and answer why their readers would be interested in the story. Statistics, survey results, infographics and real customer examples are all elements of a great storyline to support your news.
RELATED: Read more about using surveys for media and marketing campaigns.
- Make it brief and personal. A great way to do this is to develop your storyline without thinking about length. Include all of the important details (that readers would find interesting and valuable). Then take the most essential aspects for each individual media contact. Keep it short (300 words or less), use bullets, and make sure every point is relevant for that specific contact and his audience.
While the press release as we knew it may be dead, much of the content that you would have included in a release can still be the cornerstone of a great media pitch. There are always many ways to tell the same story; just make sure yours is quick, compelling and personal.
Author: Estera Hayes