In my experiences overseeing public relations, I have often been approached by business leaders and subject matter experts to create and publish a press release simply for the sake of getting the company or offering out in the market. Often times the reason for the urgency has been that they’ve had a hard time selling their product or service – there may be a belief that getting a press release out to the public will suddenly reduce the sales lifecycle or close a specific deal.
While I do feel a well-written press release and a thoughtful media campaign can impact awareness and potential sales, it’s not going to be the sole tactic to drive a large increase. Instead, it should part of a broader campaign and message strategy.
To ensure the success of a press release, there are numerous considerations before the first draft is even developed. Below are several items to consider before, during, and after the development of a press release to ensure you get the most value and impact from the right business opportunities.
What’s the primary story here and is it even newsworthy? Putting a release out that announces something your core audience or industry journalists have no interest in, and may only be important to your internal organization, is a complete waste of time. What are your competitors talking about in this space and how is your angle different? What is the market looking for and does this align to top trends? Below are a few examples I use to educate my internal clients on what is and is not appropriate to publish so we get the most value from an opportunity.
|Client wins and successes||Client survey results|
|Primary partnerships with client, award, or solution element to them.||Small partner level agreements – must be part of your tier 1 focus.|
|Prioritized product, offering, or solution launches (preferably with client reference)||Internal program news|
|High level, go-to-market news (aligning to business priorities)||Internal event announcements|
|Industry awards and recognition||Certifications, unless tied to client news|
|Event participation and/or speaker showcase||Employee activities outside of business or corporate driven initiatives.|
|Merger & acquisition news||Internal news or organization structure news|
|Significant research/ findings announcements||Premature research results|
|Special corporate level news with a strategic intent behind it: major milestones, sponsorships, HQ or primary location moves.||Company news with no business tie-in or market value.|
|Senior executive level organization announcements – only if it provides support or impact to market positioning.||Junior level employee appointments or promotions.|
- Business Priorities
Does the story align to current business goals, objectives, and priorities? If so, where does this fit with other activities planned? If there are initiatives such as events, awards, webinars, advertising, and other tactics planned, ensure a press release is appropriate and then consistent with the rest of the messages and plans.
Is there a timeline associated with the other activities or the announcement? This ensures you have enough time to get through the entire development and review process, and also may provide the opportunity to see what else the news may coincide with—positive or negative.
- Objective and Target Audience
What is the main goal or objective the business wants to achieve with the launch of this announcement and who is their target audience? Does this make sense with the rest of the business priorities? Can the release support the objective? Ensure the release is written with the audience and primary objective in mind. Does it achieve the goal?
- Business Challenge
When drafting the release, what is the key business challenge or problem that this news resolves or addresses? Start with the business problem, and then speak to the solution provided.
Don’t forget to include legitimate metrics, facts, or results that can back up any claims you are making. They also reinforce the value of the story.
- Client Examples
Do you have client stories to share that support the news, and are they willing to be quoted in your press release? The support of client commentary again reinforces the value of the story. Just be sure you get their approval to be mentioned first.
- Executive Quotes
It’s important to provide the executive or subject matter expert who is the voice of the story you are announcing. They should provide primary thoughts that you can leverage as quotes to show the value of what you are sharing. Showcase their expertise and thoughtful insight with the quote.
Providing a photo or a short video clip can drive home your message and also increase the odds that your audience will read your release. This also provides thumbnails for social media posts, which is crucial.
To keep your release short and pithy, provide hyperlinks where appropriate to drive traffic back to your website or other sites to get more information. But don’t overdo it as search engines may see it as spam, so choose carefully.
Keep to the core message of your story and stay focused. Too many ideas in one release will ensure you lose your audience and key journalists interest. Also try to keep your release to one page. Anything longer will lose attention.
- Package Wisely
There are other items to consider when packaging an optimized release. Choose a short, concise, clear, but meaningful headline with the company name included, if appropriate. Provide a call-to-action for your audience, even if it’s simply going to your website or providing contact information. Give them something they should do next as a result of this news. Provide shareable gems for Tweets and callouts. Leverage your SEO strategy and ensure your primary keywords are included so you can be found in top search results.
Perform the proper due diligence to protect your organization and its reputation. Ensure the proper business leads, those quoted, and client decision makers review the release for accuracy and final approval. In addition, always be certain your legal department has reviewed and approved a release. There are so many intricacies to language many of us overlook and a good legal review can ensure your company is protected.
- Publish and Drive Visibility
After all the final reviews, publish your release on a primary wire service and based on the agreed to timing. If there was an agreement to extend an early exclusive to a targeted publication or reporter under embargo, that should be done in advance of the publish time. Once the news hits the wire, immediately get it posted to the company website so employees and clients see it there before hearing about the news from another source. Be sure to notify employees and key business teams with the news – give them the link and provide specific instructions on how they should leverage this news with clients and prospects, and other key stakeholders.
- Social Media
Share the news right away on all of your social channels with links back to the company site. You may need to package it differently or provide unique context depending on the social channel, but take advantage of this news opportunity and share. Consider multiple posts throughout the day or week with different extracts of the story to drive more visibility and to give everyone something unique that they can potentially repost to their channels.
Once the news is out, that shouldn’t be the end of it. Look for opportunities to repurpose the content in new ways down the road. If the shelf life of the story has longevity to it, re-share the information on social sites in the future to remind your audience. You may also consider taking the core element of the story and writing another content asset for your website or blog and provide a hyperlink back to the original story. Don’t be afraid to repurpose your news, especially if it’s part of the organization’s core business priorities.
Do you have other key suggestions to developing high impact press releases that you incorporate into your process?