BurrellesLuce, a company that helps communication professionals maximize their media relations results through a full range of planning, monitoring, and measurement services, provides useful insight into how the rules have changed when it comes to distributing press/news releases:
It used to be that public relations professionals would send out a press release to a few journalists who might be interested in what they had to say or who shared a similar beat. If they were lucky, PR would be rewarded for the effort with a fairly nice write-up on behalf of their company. Conversely, PR might send a release out over one of the paid premium wire services, and hope that the release got some pickup.
The same might be said when blogging first came on the scene. Today, things aren’t so straightforward. Ever-quickening technological advances mean more outlets to pitch and more opportunity for you to directly reach your target audience.
The old rules still apply
Before sending your press release you’ll want to research your target journalists and bloggers and ensure that your audience frequents the media you are about to pitch. From there you can begin to weave in some tried-and-true best practices to help make your announcement more effective.
1. Define your media focus – try to limit your pitches to only those outlets that directly serve your target audience. Do your research and then focus on those outlets that are most likely to provide opportunity. Resist the urge to send untargeted emails.
2. Review your outreach tactics – pitch journalists and bloggers in a format that will resonate. (Believe it or not, some journalists still prefer fax over email.) There’s no use wasting your efforts on a great pitch that never makes it into the hands of the journalist or blogger.
3. Send a release whenever there is something to announce – you’ll want to keep your audience aware of what’s going on with your organization. But beware: Sending too many “irrelevant” releases can potentially cause your audience to take you less seriously.
Best practices for reaching today’s audience
The rise of online media requires that many public relations professionals consider how they distribute their news. Here are some new rules for sending releases to an increasingly tech-savvy audience.
• Tailor your release so that it directly relates to your target audience or constituents, rather than the journalist or blogger who may pick up the story. The Internet is rich with consumer- driven media. As such, your audience is more likely to receive the information directly rather than through a third party, such as a journalist.
• Create announcements according to specific segments such as: blogger, journalist, target audience. Sure it might be a little more work, but at least you’ll appeal to each group based on their preferences.
• Optimize your press release for SEO. With more content online, you’ll want your press release top of mind and at the top of the search stack.
• Craft a multi-media release. Including pictures, video, and text can make your release more appealing to an online audience and give the journalist or blogger a more compelling reason to write about you or your company.
• Design a separate social media or “web 2.0” release. You may even want to take it up a notch by using a unique template, reminiscent of a web page or blog. Whatever you decide, be sure to include “share this” buttons. This will help encourage redistribution.
Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses.