Don’t overlook the press release

The explosion of  Social Media has tarnished the luster of the traditional press release somewhat, but reports of its demise are premature. In many circumstances, a well-written release can still play a role in your communication plan.

Getting started
Ask yourself: Will people find this information interesting? Is it something that people outside of our organization will talk about? If you answer yes, it might make good fodder for a good press release.

Sometimes you need to drill beneath the surface to find a good story. For example, celebrating your store’s 18th year in business is certainly exciting, but is that newsworthy? Probably not. But, if you had the same group of employees for all 18 years …

What makes a story newsworthy?

  • New or unique.  The “first,”  “largest,” or “only one of its kind” often provides a good connection.
  • Impact and results: jobs created, lives saved, children helped, record-breaking sales, etc.
  • Connect to a trend or other story: researchers at our hospital are working on a blood test to detect breast cancer, so we distributed a release in October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Look for similar connections.

Tell a story
People too often begin releases with background information, but  it’s important to include the key message at the start of your release.

Incorrect: XYZ Manufacturing began in 1973 with just three employees, and has grown to more than 100. Despite its growth, XYZ has maintained a record for safety….

Better: It’s been eight years since an employee at XYZ Manufacturing lost time due to a workplace injury, and today Governor Smith recognized the company with the Johnston Safety Award.

Final touches
Like a newspaper article, your press release should include an attention-grabbing headline. “Local Company Wins Award” doesn’t have the punch of “Governor Honors XYZ Manufacturing  for Workplace Safety Initiative.”

Include your information for questions from reporters.

End with your “boilerplate,” a paragraph-length, high-level summary of your company: your industry, sales, number of employees, locations, etc.

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