Ad Agencies: Know the Seven Traits of Highly Effective News Releases

Joseph Miller, product manager for EON: Enhanced Online News, Business Wire San Antonio, recently evaluated “hit” news releases and what they have in common. His criteria for hit releases were getting the most reads or page views on EON.

According to Miller, the top traits of successful news releases are:

1. 87% included at least one link in one form or another in the body of the release

2. 73% incorporated some special formatting within the body of the release, whether it be bold, italics, underlining or an embedded image

3. 68% had a sub-headline

4. 58% included the company name in the release headline

5. 35% included a photo or video, with the vast majority of those including a photo only

6. 23% encouraged social sharing or engagement within the body of the release, typically Facebook or Twitter

7. 5% had special characters (e.g. registration trademark or trademark) in the headline, which may indicate special characters are not particularly useful.

Nearly 60% of the best releases had more than 500 words, and 10 am and 12 pm ET were tied for the most frequent distribution times. For more information about his findings, visit:

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses.

Agency News Releases Do Get Published Verbatim

Several years ago, a well-known New Jersey PR executive wrote the following in a national public relations trade publication:  “Virtually never, however, are releases reprinted verbatim by any responsible publication.  It’s just not done, and I defy anyone to show me where this has happened.”

 Not one to let a challenge like that pass, I sent a few samples of news releases I sent out that were printed verbatim in newspapers.  The releases represented several industries, and as I noted in my cover letter, I have notebooks stuffed full of similar articles.  I also noted that there wasn’t a geographical bias, either, as the samples I sent covered papers from California to New York.

 I never heard back from the executive, nor to my knowledge did he ever acknowledge publicly that someone had proven his assertion wrong.

 As newsrooms shed jobs and try to keep up with less staff, it’s still true today that a well-written news release can easily be reprinted entirely, or with very minor edits, in consumer and trade publications.

 While this wouldn’t fly at The New YorkTimes, smaller papers tend to lack the resources to do as much original reporting as they might like, and they seem to appreciate a well written, newsworthy release from a trusted source.

 This does not mean, as some have suggested, that journalism is in a state of decline, or that such newspapers are irresponsible.

 Over the years, I’ve worked to develop good relationships with editors and reporters where my clients have operations, as do all good PR executives.  I believe we are viewed by many media outlets as extra sets of arms and legs that bring valuable news items to the table.

 As long as advertising agencies get their facts straight, focus on relevant topics and not try to pass off advertising disguised as “news,” they can provide an important service to these papers—and help their clients look good in the process.

 Normally my objective with a news release is to generate enough interest among reporters so that they will want to schedule an interview and do their own stories.  But, when staff limitations prohibit that, I’ll gladly take a reprint of my release any day.

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses.

Ad Agencies Need to Avoid Headlines Like This

During my days as an editor for a healthcare magazine, I received some interesting mail.  Here’s a news release headline a well-meaning hospital PR executive sent me one day:


 Huh? I’m guessing one in a half-million or so people would have a clue what that headline was about.  And ask yourself: how much interest does it generate?  The release itself was fairly well written, and once I read the first few sentences I realized the hospital was hosting a seminar about advancements in hernia operations.

 Trouble is, most reporters wouldn’t get past the headline – the release would end up in the recycle bin before the first paragraph was read.  Why not just say in the headline, in simple terms, what the seminar is about?

 Headlines are vital to attracting interest and getting people to read the release or article, similar to how the wording on a subject line can make the difference between you reading or deleting the e-mail.  Make your headlines readable or you risk having the release discarded before it even gets read.


Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses.