This series will examine common public relations collateral and provide tricks of the trade for producing the respective documents.
“Siri, how do I write a press release?”
Sending a press release can help brands increase awareness and gain media attention. Searching the Internet for tips on how to ‘do’ a press release will produce results with titles along the lines of ‘Top Tips for Writing a Press Release.’ The content of these webpages will give recommendations to follow when writing a press release such as:
- Develop a story.
- Write well.
- Provide a catchy headline.
- Do your research.
- Include relevant quotes.
For public relations professionals, these suggestions are table stakes and come almost automatically with anything they write. Experience in the industry and any formal training people in the PR industry have received cultivate an instinctual response to create copy that includes all of the aforementioned aspects.
Agencies and in-house communications departments provide much more value than any Google search could yield.
There are several tricks that PR pros often use when putting out a press release. Even the phrase ‘put out a press release’ is a bit industry specific. Essentially that phrase is just discussing the creation, distribution, distribution, and pitching of a press release. Even though these tasks can be very nuanced and client- and campaign-specific, PR pros perform these tasks daily and many have got them down to a science.
The first thing to consider is whether the release will be how to distribute it; will it be put on a newswire, on the organization’s website newsroom, or pitched to individual journalists in the body of an email? There are many factors that will determine the strategy chosen, such as size of pitch list, newsworthiness, budget – it’s not free to use newswires, and newsworthiness, among myriad other considerations.
There are some aspects of PR decision-making that would require a novel to be explained, even at the most top-level description. However, outlined below are common tricks PR pros commonly use when their strategic approach involves using a press release.
- When pitching a press release, tailor the pitch to the specific journalist. Ask yourself, ‘why should this reporter be interested in the release?’
- Time the release according to the content. Sending out a press release on a Friday afternoon is a sure way to get the news buried in email boxes – although this may at times be the intention.
- Including a time embargo can often be a great way to assist journalists with whom an exclusive is being coordinated. This will help them to get the appropriate facts but not spill any breaking news.
- Have spokespersons available to comment or provide further details if reporters wish to publish a unique story following the release. Preparing messaging, quotes, spokesperson biographies, and relevant images will assist reporters produce their stories in a timely manner.
- Following up on a press release is more of a case-by-case basis; journalists are busy but sometimes the release may just have gotten lost in their very full inbox. As a general rule of thumb, if a journalist who typically writes on the organization has not responded or reached out, it would seem reasonable to contact them.
Press releases may seem daunting to many who are new to communications, given the specific formatting and content requirements that are unique to the deliverable type. Xenophon is well-equipped to handle the described, and many other, aspects of a press release and the strategy that goes along with putting out a press release. Press releases are foundational to public relations and although they may not be included in every campaign, they are everyday tasks in PR agencies and in-house communications departments worldwide.